Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irving Altus - June 2, 1982

Forced Labor

And you never found out since.

Well, I think uh, it was a little city before they brought us to Königsberg. It, it was in Germany because, according the thing then, but exactly the name, no. We didn't find out.

You were mainly--they were doing forced labor...

Forced labor, of course.

...or were you in jail?

Forced labor.

They never--you never just were in jail.

They did not feed anybody for nothing. Even when you worked, you didn't get enough. It's not such a thing jail. Later. They brought us...

Do you know how many hours a day that was?

From the morning from daylight. And then if you worked inside uh, ten, twelve, fifteen. But we used to work outside from the morning 'til it got dark and...

And there was, of course never enough to eat.

No food--never enough to eat.

What served?

A piece of bread. You know, before we came to Auschwitz it was at least, if they didn't beat you, whatever, they--you know, so you could live through. That beating which killed the people. Not that much the food. You used to get a slice of bread, a little bit of soup. Uh, good, bad, but you could make it. Some days a little more, whatever, you know. You couldn't live on it, but you could not die on it you see, because--after all since '45, for two and a half years I worked and think and...

Were you getting weaker all the time?

Before I came to Auschwitz, not that, I don't say, not that bad.

Wife: But think, you had--you almost died.

I had the typhus, right from the beginning, but I don't know. A week later, took me to work and it's some uh, a little miracle too. Usually if you were sick you couldn't work, they didn't need you. This is not just--they didn't need you. If you couldn't produce, forget it. They wouldn't give you the piece of bread. But I'll say here, I had, I was more lucky than anything else. I had the typhus in, in prison before in '41, of--or maybe the end of '40. And a, a few days later I got a little bit better and somehow, I don't know, I lived through with a little food and everything. I came out of it. And they took me to Auschwitz and I was the rest of--'til '45 and I was never sick anymore and thing. So, it's lucky. I think it's a little bit of luck, that's all.

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