Excerpt from David Britton's novel Motherfuckers: The Auschwitz of Oz, published in 1996 by Savoy Books of Manchester, England.
IN THE despairing hiatus before midnight, Doctor Mengele's dog-boys set up a howling metronomic beat. Slapping their haunches in a rhythmic mantra on the wooden floor of their shed their canine throats whined a prolonged a cappella falsetto which, as Ecker dryly observed twenty years on, was later perfected and made bearable by the Rivingtons. Meng had been kept awake for hours and was not in a good mood. With his sulphurous-red knife unsheathed he had sidled into their barracks and without issuing a sound skinned a big dog-boy by the name of Bundalo. He had hung its slippery pelt above their door.
"If I hear so much as another fart," the half-man slithered his exposed penis across the rickety wooden walls and held up a gnarled finger, "this goes up the arse it comes from."
A grievous beast, walking upright on its powerful hind legs, bared its fangs at Meng. "Another night, Twinboy." Its words implied a finality, but Meng lingered a busy few minutes to make his point, then left with the severed leg of the dispatched dog-boy tucked in his belt. A morsel to nibble on during the coming day.
The deviant strain of miradors had learned to fear the Meng above all creatures in Auschwitz save for Dr Mengele, the Angel of Death. At the hands of the half-man, many of their brothers lay buried beneath the red clay of the camp's compound.
From the other side of night's creep the grotesque land of Auschwitz thrilled into a golden fantasia, and the killing machines of Birkenau buzzed with urgent fire.
Lines of waiting dog-boys, their top-heavy bodies bunny-hopping together in a mincing formation, came arrogantly into the dawn light. In a nonce's prowl their thick back legs churned up the red mud until it ranked in vast tiers of bones and excrement. When the dog-boys travelled beneath the arced illuminated sign, 'Arbeit Macht Frei', a myriad fairy mode lights exploded over their dipping forms.
Equidistant between the two miles which separated Auschwitz from Birkenau the dog-boys began to move their ungainly jaws in a hideous sucking and blowing melody that was just about discernible as Schubert's melancholy Opus 6. When the approaching trains logged into Birkenau and the crowds of Jews, gypsies, giants and dwarves were unloaded onto the mud compound, the dog-whistling grew into an atonal shriek.
Like a monster on the edge of a dream (as Ben Hecht would have said) Doctor Mengele would make his first appearance of the day. He quickly took up the whistling melody, adding to it a new note of order which the pack mimicked hesitantly. Soon, the whole assembly would be whistling a mad, hellish cacophony.
When the Doctor idly flapped his folded white gloves against his palm, silence fell instantly, and the rows of immigrants herded forward in a shuffling gait. Loudspeakers crackled to life as a tape-loop playing Lohengrin piped its power chords through the camp, and the dog-boys sank their victims indiscriminately into the killing grounds. Hued smoke spread from chimney to chimney and the Mussulmans — the half-dead — rose from their shallow bunks and set about the day's task of aping life.
Ecker often stood for hours watching the eddying lines of humanity, the pitching sodium flames billowing from tall chimneys, his lips pursed, the terrible smell of cooking impregnating every cranny of his thin body.
Nobody knows how it feels to put a child into the ground. Unaccustomed tears would come to Ecker. Every monster imagined by mankind had died and was reborn a hundred times more terrifying in the concentration camps of Bergen-Belsen and Dachau. Around him, the saddest sights in the world had metamorphosed their image onto every man and woman on the earth. He and his brother had, in the truest sense, been birthed in those years of chaos. He had always been a vegetarian. But after Birkenau, he had turned vegan.
Ecker was a natural ectomorph, his temperament pragmatic. Above his bunk in the mutation barrack hung his philosophy — '"Only those who adapt to change survive" — Charles Darwin.' Science under Hitler, 'thanatology' (the science of death), named after Thanatos, the Greek spirit who personified Death, had resulted in 'Mengele's Children' — a melisma of dwarves, hunchbacks, twins, gypsies, esoteric cripples and anything in the spectrum that passed for humanity in Mengele's oneiric dream.
On an overcast day he came across a child holding a tiny green dragon in her frail arms. So much blood had been taken from her she looked as white as the winter snow which covered Auschwitz. Bones were visible beneath her rags. The dragon was slowly bleeding to death from cuts inflicted by the camp's barbed-wire fence. The girl was smiling; to see a dragon was lucky. Legend had it that to see a dragon was a sign that a missing loved one still lived. She placed it on the ground and it ran in a weaving hop across the stony compound, vanishing beneath a wooden hut. Still smiling, the girl walked on.
Though dragons appeared infrequently, such anomalies were not unknown in the camps. In the summer of '42, Ecker had witnessed a fall of blue-and-red hoarfrost which had metamorphosed Birkenau into an enchanted glade, a Christmas card of flickering fires, spiralling chimneys and winning splendours, transforming the Auschwitz Movie House (showing a Monte Hale western that week) into a fitting palace for the Son of the Redeemer.
One night a mad wind from Treblinka had blown in a flock of succubi. They landed on the roof of a long hut, flowing locks of vermilion hair surging around the open vaginas in their necks. An ague shook through Ecker as he had watched the visitation. They were passing a blind man between themselves.
He sometimes thought Dr Mengele too was a visitation, a glorious being from some malign planet, Captain Eugenic from Mars, or an houri from the dark side of the moon. They called him the 'Twins' Father', and so he was, until he had given them to Lord Horror. Of their real father, there was just a distant memory, ephemeral and euphoric, though at times, like the rising of the full moon, Meng had insisted that Joseph Merrick — the Elephant Man — was his true parent.
Ecker shrugged his thin frame. There were two forms of theatre — comedy and tragedy. Meng was comedy. Ecker was tragedy, or at least its nearest relation.
"Shitfire!" exclaimed Meng, clambering over a carefully orchestrated trajectory of corpses. His fat bulk wobbled. "Fuck a duck..." He skidded to a halt in front of an SS guard "...Goofy, is that you?" From inside the brick crematorium a wind-up gramophone began to playa selection from Strauss's Die Fledermaus.
The guard looked pityingly at the half-man and said, "Wein witch fra mine." With a pig stick he swiped Meng across the head. Meng broke the man's back and deposited the body, minus its black boots, among the hill of dead.
"Here..." He stopped a Sonderkommando "...have you heard this one?" Meng scratched his groin, trapping an earthworm with his thumb and squashing it on the inside of his hairy leg. "Two white men walking through the jungle and they see a lion licking another lion's arse. One of the white men says, 'Isn't that a bit unusual?'
'''Not really,' replies the second. 'It just ate a nigger and it's trying to get the taste out of its mouth!'"
The man looked uncomprehendingly at Meng. That morning he had buried a field of dead children waist deep in the earth. In an open wind their bodies had moved like rooted serpents under the nacarat sun.
"You dozy cunt!" shouted Meng, exasperated by the Sonderkommando's lack of response. "You can laugh, it's a fucking joke."
"Please, have you any food?" The man held out his hand.
"You what?" Meng asked incredulously, drawing his body up to its full height. "I take the time to give you a fucking laugh — and you want a bleeding hand-out!" He cracked a loud fart. "You're too cheeky by half." He yanked out a rat-tail that had lodged in his back teeth. "Here, chew on that." Disgustedly, he marched off.
Meng waxed philosophically. "I can look into a face and know if it should die." Beneath his feet the earth was a yellowish clay. Concrete pylons stretched in even rows to the horizon, barbed-wire strung between them from top to bottom. Crudely painted signs warned that the wires were charged with high-tension currents. "I can know," he continued, "if it's ever going to amount to anything. And if it doesn't pose a threat, the next thing I ask myself... Does it deserve to live?" Inside the enormous squares bounded by the pylons stood hundreds of barrack-huts, covered with green tar-paper and arranged to form a long rectangular network of streets as far as the eye could see. "And if I let it live, will it be of any use? Will it just be taking air from me?" A watchtower of emerald and jade stood in the centre of Auschwitz. From its cruel eye two strobe-lights flooded the camp with flashes as red as the ichor of salamanders. Now Meng stood for a minute in its thrill, his clothes shimmering like the scarlet wattles of dragons. After the operation Doctor Mengele had told him, "With my assistance, you will be the sexiest man on earth. Are you ready for that responsibility?" Meng had assured him he was more than up to the job, adding, "Any chance of giving me a two-foot dick...or two cunts...or both?" His nipples had stood out as firm as corn cobs.
Up jumped a big frog.
The length of a stick is infinite.
Auschwitz, thought Ecker, is a semaphore from the past that spelled future.
Fifty years on, Horror had confided to Ecker, Auschwitz would be a recognisable brand name, a mythic character as well-known as Sherlock Holmes or Tarzan. A fortune awaited the author who could bring 'Mr Auschwitz' to life. To recreate the persona of Auschwitz would be an ordained mission. Auschwitz, the holy end-all of life's futile pattern, slinking through the subconscious of humanity, the one archetypal riff common to all nightmares, fuelled on the anvil of little Richard.
In a hundred years, Auschwitz would form its own genre and become the most successfully marketed product in the history of the world, a name as well known globally as Coca Cola, taking all media under its encompassing umbrella. The camps were the obvious ultimate enclosed world, the desired image of world television, beamed by satellite into each city, town and village, ideal for community soap operas (a story of everyday life on the edge of life), of science fiction time travel (travel back through your life and end it in Auschwitz). In this televised scenario the dog-boys loomed large as Heathcliff doomed lovers, the spice of sexy bodice-rippers which thrilled millions of women. Guilt would never stand in the way of commerce, assured Horror, his cobra eyes stealing the dark.
Sex and death, the Lord's calling card. Horror warmed.
On a day trip to Buchenwald, two thousand Hasidic Jews pulled a char-a-banc full of dog-boys. Petrol was rationed, and progress was slow. The dog-boys were understandably irritated by the speed of the journey. One dog-boy, barking mad and firing on all cylinders, ripped the heads off a dozen Jewesses, eventually finding one that tasted of lemon meringue. Party hats were well in evidence, hanging jauntily from their slanted heads. Eight of them clambered on to the vehicle's roof and began to rock it from side to side, cheering cockily at the Austrian peasants whose villages they travelled through, beating them about the shoulders with dead Bengal monitor lizards.
Meng and Ecker had been put on the bus to keep order. Meng had his work cut out. Strolling down the aisle he forked-in an eye here, a neck there, but to little avail. A mad, gleeful chaos ruled.
"OK. Any black dogs on board?" Meng gave a couple of sharp yelps and banged his foot twice. "Come on, come on, just one Le Petite Negra Dawg."
A stocky dog-boy, suffering from eczema, lurched from its seat and let slavering jaws dribble over the half-man. Its tongue rolled out thick and fat. "Fuck off back to Dachau," it barked.
By way of reply Meng gripped its jaws and slowly levered them open. "See if this fits." He issued a series of loud piercing whistles. He spoke directly into its mouth. "This chap went up to a nigger who had two burning tyres around his neck. The chap says, 'For fuck's sake, take one off! Never mix cross-plies with radials'."
A roar of approval went round the bus.
The snap of jawbone ricocheted, triggering another burst of applause. Meng hurled the dog-boy's carcass through an open window. It hit a telegraph pole where it hung, upside-down, until its head decomposed. Slapping Meng good-naturedly on his back, a breed growled in anticipation. "You stuffy sod. "
"Chances are you're not wrong," Meng nodded matter-of-factly.
Halfway to Buchenwald, Ecker retired to the toilet with a melon and a basket of apples. From the confines of the latrine he could hear the whole bus singing in German, 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary'.
Electrics throbbed in the general din. Ecker had to grip the wooden shit-house seat as the bus shook and the toilet roll began to unravel. He could smell the sweat rising from a hundred pelts and hear the savage callings of a strange vision from the shores of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Swirling through the bus came 'Bop Diddlie in the Jungle' by Tommy King and the Starlites. When it faded, Flowers's cut of 'Johnny Born Bonney' banged out. For the next hour every Bo Diddley and Arfy-Darfy variation beater sucked a swath through Austria.
Attempting to distance himself from the melee, Ecker peered from between the window slats. They were crossing one of the country's large lakes and on its sheenless surface was a great raft of charred corpses. He was reminded of the Morgawr he had once sighted off the Cornish coast.
Resting his head against the slats, he let the fresh air cool him. His side still burned with pain where Doctor Mengele's surgical blade had sliced him free from Meng. If they could just stay clear of the random excesses of Mengele's menagerie, or the killing machines of Birkenau or Brzezinka, all would be well. For Mengele's predilection for collecting freaks, he thanked whatever entity watched over them. Clearly, it had saved their lives.
The day they had been railed into Auschwitz, an omnipotent being must have been alert to their potential. Their train carried Rumanian Jews, and more than the usual rich bounty of freaks — a woman with two noses, one with donkey ears, two sets of quadruped twins and a little girl who had the wool of a sheep on her head instead of hair.
He and Meng were the first twins to arrive in the camp who were physically joined together. They had stayed for hours on a deserted croft, clasped in each other's arms, until Dr Mengele had made entrance from a squall of rain. He came with a two-wheeled wooden donkey cart pushed by a Jew from Kouno. Travel stickers from the killing grounds of Chelmno, Belzec and Sobibor decorated the cart. Still clasped together the twins were lifted into it and, with Dr Mengele leading the way were pushed through flower beds fertilised by an experimental mash of human blood and ground bone.
"Zwillinge, zwillinge, zwillinge," breathed the geneticist.
Twenty yards beyond Der Weg zur Himmelfahrt ('the way to the heavenly journey'), the Jew and the cart began to sink in a seeping marsh of dirt and blood. There, Meng and Ecker were gently gathered up in Mengele's father arms and carried to the safety of his plantation. And the inhuman glow of Auschwitz KZ Death Head Kommando could be seen a hundred miles away in distant Ravensbrück.
In the weeks after their separation, Doctor Mengele had been very attentive to the twins. He bought Meng fine dresses from the House of Dior, Paris, fussing over every satin gown and velvet ribbon that incongruously draped the half-man's Minotaur-like physique. The Doctor insisted that Meng wear the brightest red lipsticks while he listened sympathetically to the twin's anguished pleas for, "a body like Mae West; a non-quitter; curves that just won't stop".
"Rest easy, young Meng. I will help you to overcome Nature's caprice. After all, that is what we men of science are here for. With our little surgeons' blades we can correct Nature's ever-wilful patterns." Then the Doctor scrubbed Meng briskly with a bar of soap made from human remains. The soap smelled of Lifebuoy. Bits of bone and grit in the Auschwitz tap water stuck in Meng's black body hair, and Mengele bent attentively to suck them off with his mouth, gripping long tufts of the waterlogged hair between his teeth. When he had finished the Doctor rested back in a wicker armchair, sated, whistling an aria from his favourite Puccini opera and then humming 'The Blue Danube' waltz.
One of Mengele's directives was to induce multiple births in the Auschwitz female twins in an attempt to repopulate the depleted German armies. In Meng, he developed the idea of incubating the first-ever male pregnancy. This had greatly interested his Reich masters, who asked for nude photographs of the half-man to be sent directly to the Führerbunker. It was later hinted that Hitler had donated a vial of his own valued semen to be implanted in the Meng.
"Fucking God forbid," Ecker had commented about the idea of a hybrid Meng and Hitler. "Haven't the niggers and the ikey mo's got enough bleeding troubles?"
Ecker had suspected that his brother's presence threw an erotic switch in Doctor Mengele's already fevered and disturbed mind. Was it purely a coincidence that the name 'Meng' was an abbreviation of 'Mengele'? The half-man had been christened 'Meng' in the mysterious years before their arrival in the death camp and, to his knowledge, the Doctor himself had never been addressed by the diminutive. There seemed to be no obvious way of accounting for the father-son bond which existed between them. No other creature benefited from the Doctor's more humane side in the land where only reality reigned cruel and great.
In Dachau a tea-party of goblins discussed the moral implications of infanticide. A Big Nose advanced the opinion that since all children tasted of either seaweed or spinach the question was in the gourmet's province.
"Dat's de stuff!" cried three wise little nigs on leave from Tiger Tim's Weekly. Their piccaninny hair all-aquiver, they offered Afrocentric advice.
"Cooks dem long," spoke up one.
"Makes dem tender," added two.
Number three licked her lips. "Never leave a scrap on your plate..."
"...and always wipe your hands after a nice meal!" they chorused together.
Subjective and inconclusive as such discussions usually are, the eternal question was left until last. "What about art and its implication and application to life?"
A berserk dog-boy with a fuzzy dyed vermilion pelt leapt onto the table and kicked over a teapot. A severed Jew hung from its slack jaw. "Fuck you and the crab you spilled from!" Dropping a spray of foul saliva over the goblins, it tore the Jew from its mouth. "Maximum effort, that's what the Doctor called for and, by fuckola, we gave it. "
Motherfuckers: The Auschwitz of Oz © David Britton & Michael Butterworth 1996.
The Kindle and iBooks edition of Horror Panegyric has been expanded with a new afterword by Supervert and additional excerpts from Savoy Books' most recent Lord Horror novels, La Squab: Black Rose of Auschwitz and Invictus Horror.