Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irving Altus - June 2, 1982

Different Conditions

How uh, were there much--was it much different being in Auschwitz as opposed to the, the slave gangs before and the work camp after? Was Auschwitz...

It was.

How did that differ from...

It was worse, because when we worked in, in uh, Königsberg, from the cities for thing, it was better for us. The food was a little better, you weren't so--first of all they didn't beat you. Here, you were afraid for everybody. Not only the SS, the Kapos and the thing and. You had a hundred bosses. Anybody could beat you up and do anything to you. In the places where you worked, you had only one boss. Somebody who took you and that's it. For no reason, they didn't beat you up. Here, for no--for nothing. I mean, you didn't have to do anything bad or good. They just got pleasure out of it. Kick you in the back and--whatever you know, whatever is desired, what--you know, to do with you.

And that didn't happen as much or didn't happen at all...

Not, not happen when you work in the private you know, whatever, in jails or to, took you to work in other factories.

Or the cement factories.

Any--yeah, you didn't have this.

If you did your job, you didn't get beaten.

That's it.

They just worked you, worked you...

That's it, exactly.

...fifteen hours a day. As long as you stood up and did the...

This, if you couldn't--listen, if you fell, then they took you away and you're dead...


...that's all, but--right. Auschwitz was a bad camp. And it was, and it's true. It didn't matter if you're healthy or you did your job or you didn't, I mean. Again, a little bit luck too. I don't know how the hell we survived, I sur...I don't know. I really don't know how. With a little food and the coming from jail, coming from other thing, I don't know. But I think because I tried so hard not to, to get hit. When they start hitting you, then you know you are finished. You finished. Then you couldn't do it both ways. They were hurting you. You, you couldn't work and then if you couldn't work they would beat you more. And you knew once they start on somebody to finish them, before the day was over, he was dead. You couldn't walk home you know, so then the SS came either to shoot 'em or kick them or put his foot on his throat and that's all.

Right there in front of you.

Right there in front of everybody. Didn't want to--didn't even want to you know, use a bullet.

And then did you have to carry him back and bury them? Or did you leave him?

Sometimes yes or they left him or some people carry him back or whatever. Or they, they left him there and then even after the thing some couple guys went around with a wagon to pick up the dead ones. Didn't have to carry him. You had to march you know, to your barrack. You walk, you couldn't stay and watch or do or talk, nothing. It was wagon, you walking.

Did, did any people talk about escaping or did any people escape?

Not where I was, in the little factory. Like I say, a thousand people 'til the end.

There was no re...possibility of resistance.

No possibility and uh, like I say, then it was too late. What are you going to do later on, if you didn't do at home, how can you do it here. In Auschwitz they organized something, I remember, because a girl from my city was there and uh, they shouted or they hunged uh, you know, in the thing. And now, there was gonna, oh, be some, something. They ev...they did organize something. But what could you do against you know, in Auschwitz and--they didn't accomplished anything.

Just a lot of people were killed.

Oh yeah. They want to do something but it, but nothing was accomplished.

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