Weekly Reads: First One In, Last One Out

Emily Dickinson // The Watchdog

“There must never be closure on the Holocaust. It is our responsibility to continue the legacy and preserve as many testimonies as possible.”

― Marilyn Shimon, “First One In, Last One Out”

Content Warning: This book contains descriptions of cruelties and brutalities seen in times of war.

Murray Scheinberg was among the first eight men to enter Auschwitz in 1940 and one of the last to escape Nazi concentration at the end of World War II. This memoir, written by Scheinberg’s niece Marilyn Shimon, is a recount of the events Scheinberg experienced and the brutalities he endured for six years before escaping from Dachau. Scheinberg visited a total of six prisons and camps including Pawiak prison, Tarnow prison, Auschwitz, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Sachsenhausen camp and Dachau camp. Known as prisoner 31321, Scheinberg entered Auschwitz as a Polish Jew political prisoner and endured unimaginable brutality. 

Scheinberg’s testimony was rejected in the 1960s due to the horrific details and the harrowing story. It took almost 50 years for Scheinberg’s accounts to be published. 

With multiple attempts at escape and betrayal from those Scheinberg trusted, Scheinberg’s story is horrifying and captivating. How can one man be put into the unluckiest situation and survive? With bravery, courage, and perhaps some luck, Scheinberg survived to testify and bring justice to those who perished. 

“First One In, Last One Out” is a quick but heavy read that I highly recommend. Scheinberg once said, “The past can’t remain in the past. It is what influences the present and the future.”