Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Marton Adler - July 13, 1989


What was your job at Dora?

Dora okay. The first, at Dora, at first it was the job was anybody else. I get a bowl of soup I gotta perform with anybody else. For instance, they build barracks, prefabricated barracks. A section of a barrack even today you really need four strong guys to carry those. Very, very heavy. So they put four guys to that, to that section to carry on top of a hill. I couldn't, honest to God, I couldn't even, if they put the thing on me, I'd collapse. But all the three were grown ups so the other three carried it and I was supposed to be the fourth one. I can't even reach it with my hand. But I'm carrying it, so now, so naturally, the Kapo of the SS could've beat me, but he didn't. Maybe he felt sorry for me. But the other three had to carry my load, too. So let's say later on, say you have to dig ditches, so they gave me a shovel and a pick, for instance, that explains to no different, they line us all up, they give everybody, everybody in a striped uniform with a number, they give them a wheelbarrow, and shovel and a pick. Okay, well, that's not so hard. So everybody gets a wheelbarrow, shovel and pick, I don't know what's next. Fine, march, and march--we end up at a field. I don't know. My wheelbarrow, my pick and my shovel's next to me, I thought I already accomplished something. This guy comes and really starts beating me, I mean really beat me with a, like with a stick from a shovel, I mean almost kill me. I started to cry and he says, "Verfluchte Jude" [cursed Jew], "Ich habe gesagt, planieren" [I said to level] well planieren, I didn't know that it meant to level. Plan in Jewish is like a plan, but next to me there's some prisoners the poor guy I didn't know where he was from, later on I knew they had letters, P for Pole, C for Czech, B for Belgium and he throws me language I should, use the pick and then the shovel and then the wheelbarrow then I caught on and I was all set. So in other words, I did, I'm loading trains with a garbage let's say. Or I'm loading sand from trains so carrying, carrying cement sacks and then one time, some Russian soldier, no not a sol...a Russian POW, or a Russian prisoner rather, was insubordinate to a SS man and for that they punished all the Russians. Every tenth man got a flogging and all the Russians that had good jobs like the kitchen, the uh, uh, Stubedienst, means that the guys that's in the barracks and he waits till the prisoners come and they maybe clean up the beds or whatever. All these people with soft jobs, if they were Russians, they were kicked out and they went into penal colonies like my father worked. By that time my father's dead already because he was only in Dora maybe three weeks at a most. If he died June 19, and I don't know when we got there, I have to look it up, so, so then somehow or other, somehow or other, I was picked by the SS man that was in charge of that clothing depot to work in that clothing depot. Me and three other boys. And then within about a few days, he wasn't happy with any of them except me. I was a good worker. So I stayed there. I stayed until the camp was evacuated. And I had a good job. I had one of the best jobs that you could have.

Sorting clothes?

Yes, sorting clothes, say civilian clothes would come in, you had to cut off this part and this part and from the end or put on or sometimes you put on um, uh that paint on the back of a coat or a better pair of trousers so it wouldn't get in the hand of the prisoner and towards the end we sorted SS clothing. I mean we were, I had sort of a privilege position. I had one of the best jobs you could get. I was envied by everybody. I had a good job. A job I could even do a little a little impropriety. In other words, I could come at night with, to the Appell, put on a good pair of shoes, good pair of shoes and maybe trade it with another prisoner and put on, I risk my life for it, but I didn't risk my life to be a hero, he gave me something for it. I mean you know, what would he give me? Say they give you a piece of salami every other day. Well, it's fair, I mean I didn't say, more or whatever, I was still the same age, he'd give me a quarter of that salami he bought it on the installment plan. Let's say he gave me a ration of salami but to be paid off let's say in four times or five times. I didn't sent a collector after him. So this is the thing, and then by that time, this is already in '45, Dora was already a bad camp, very, very, terrible camp. And that's where this Commandant Arthur Rudolph, but anyways I, that really saved me, that job. Because when they shipped us to Belsen, the people that were under all these terrible conditions, they wouldn't last. Lot of them died on these trains going to Belsen. I survived because I was pretty strong. I mean, once I worked in that I wasn't exposed to the elements, I had a roof over my head, I wasn't beaten, and I worked at a pace, I mean sorting clothes is not digging ditches in the rain and going to sleep in the soaked clothes. Over there just like I could put on a good pair of shoes, you there, the other prisoners no nobody is Jewish except me and I'm young, a youngster to they are teaching me the trade. I could put maybe a sweater under my shirt, I mean I already had things that wasn't available to anybody.

When did they evacuate Dora, you were taken in boxcars again?

Well, okay, ja, no, yes, yes, from Dora we went back in boxcars, just like I telling you just about because according to all records, Belsen was liberated April 15. And I was in Belsen maybe only three days before it was liberated. That's another thing that saved me too because in Belsen they didn't give you any food and that's strange, the fact that I was no longer undernourished, and I wasn't exposed to all these, all these other horrors, that's what's so--although in Belsen I was already weak, very weak because a Russian told me, "look, we'll be liberated, don't give up" and all that. I was already like, `cause I didn't eat for three days or two days, I was weak, weak, you know. Plus the time in the boxcar. The boxcar from, fortunately, there were some boxcars from Dora to Belsen that I read as a book Dora, I don't know where it said, I had a--not only did they practice cannibalism in those boxcars from Dora to Belsen, but they even started on them when they were still alive. That's how hungry they were. That book that I read was written by a Frenchman, a non-Jew, that people started to nibble at people's ears while they were still alive. That's how hungry they were. So all in all. I'm pretty lucky. I mean...

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