Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joseph Birnholtz - July 28, 1982

Getting Special Privileges

Did uh, were there any attempts at sabotage?

Well uh, I'm sure many times, but I don't remember, I was, I was too young.

Were there any uh, did you hear of any...

We were hoping that something would happen, so if, if it would happen maybe we have a chance to get out.

Were there ever any attacks on the Germans?

Uh, well, that German, that biggest murderer that I told you that was killing every day people with a hammer, I mean, hitting them on the head and was a murderer. So uh, this man, this German told my brother himself that he was attacked by partisans in the woods. See what happened, my brother tried to open up his eyes--why he had to kill people. Why don't you bring--see he had--my brother's wife's--father-in-law was a very wealthy man, ??? and he had some money hidden. I think he had a part of that concentration camp, I think, belonged to him with some other partners, he was a very wealthy man. So he had some diamonds hidden and things like that, so he would buy him off, you know. Give it--show him money. So, as a matter of fact, he gave us the privilege, that, that murderer--my brother told him, "Why do you have to kill people? Bring us some bread, we'll give you anything, you know, and uh, you can live like a millionaire." So he did sometimes, this biggest murderer, he did sometimes bring a bread, you know. So anyway, he gave him privilege to this ??? and me to sleep, to sleep--for awhile, maybe half a year we slept in that magazine, but used to give out--instead of sleeping with hundreds of people...

The magazine--the store?

Magazine used to give out to work--the Baubetrieb used to give out the shovels with the hammers--used to stay in the room about twice the size of this living room here. So uh, I used to sleep on the bunk bed there so I would rather sleep there than all between the lice and between all the worms that we had over there, where you slept five hundred people on one, on one bed, you know, with, with the straw.

[interruption in interview]

So we had a privilege...

Who slept with you?

My brother's father-in-law, ???, he was a very well-to-do man. So we were privileged to sleep in the magazine, so we wouldn't have to sleep, you know, because he gave him a lot of money and diamonds and everything. So uh, at night when we were sleeping over there, there were so many rats in that magazine that--they were hungry themselves just like the people used to be--I understand before the war, must have been a ??? must have been a leather factory, leather, so they were eating that stuff, from cows whatever, horses. So now when this concentration camp that came there were so hungry, those rats, and I remember my brother's father-in-law was afraid to sleep on the bottom, so, so I slept down on the bunk bed and he slept on top. And uh, some of those rats would jump over my cover. See, so it was a choice, either sleeping here or sleeping in the barracks between--with all those hundreds of people. But here I knew I was safer. If they make a selection at night, they come over there. So anyway, I remember at night I couldn't sleep and in front of my eyes right now big rat like a big cat that with the tails they were strong they would knock over shovels, shovels with hammers at night. It was really scary. I tell you it's a miracle that I can sleep at night without thinking--I mean, I see rats in front of me all the time.

Um, why would the--uh, why did they make selections...

They had...

...because there were taking the sick people out or?

No, they had an order every time to deliver to Auschwitz to send out to be gassed, people to be killed, to Treblinka. They had always the different concentration camps. They didn't keep too long, you see.

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