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Simon Wiesenthal   Letter 08   16-Dec-1994   The prisoner's overlooked belt
December 16, 1994

Simon Wiesenthal
Jewish Documentation Center
Vienna, Austria


Dear Mr. Wiesenthal:

I just thought of one more question that I should have added to my letter to you of December 15, 1994.

Let me start by setting the scene.  You are a prisoner of the Gestapo.  You are about to be tortured to extract certain vital information, and after that killed.  Knowing this, you try to commit suicide by slashing your wrists.  After that, you try to commit suicide by taking a bottle of pills.  The Gestapo is aware of both suicide attempts.  And then this:

Wiesenthal tried suicide one last time.  He threw his belt over a bar of the high cell window.  When he climbed up on the toilet seat to put the belt around his neck, however, his bandaged wrists went numb and his weakened system made him dizzy.  (Alan Levy, The Wiesenthal File, 1993, p. 54)

But wait a minute how could you still have a belt?  Standard practice, I would have supposed, would be to take away the belt of any prisoner, and most certainly one who had already tried to commit suicide twice.

How would you account for the Gestapo allowing you to have a belt, especially when there was such an obvious place right in your own cell from which you could hang yourself?


Yours truly,


Lubomyr Prytulak


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