Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Erna Blitzer Gorman - July 12, 1989

Physical Conditions

You said the weather was extreme, the seasons were extreme, what was it like in the winters?

Well, it was drafty and very cold but you know the hay keeps you warm. Where I feel more unbearable was the summers, because the roof line was baking and sun must have been baking on the roof whatever the roof was made of and it was absolutely stifling. The stench, the hay becomes a different, it has a misty, it has a...ah I can still smell it, it wasn't sweet smelling like below, it was the smell of hell, I would say, if you would imagine hell. Excuse me, I'm sniffling, I'm sorry. [Pause]

Eventually, you did nothing.


You stopped talking,...

You know, I don't see any of us moving, I see us laying a great deal.

And moving just to eat?

There was no place where to move anyhow, you went an inch or two closer to the blanket. Um, it wasn't a question of moving from here to the corner of this room. There wasn't -- you just shuffled, pushed yourself.

What did he bring you to eat?

All I can see is bits of potatoes, I see soup and some bread, very little bread, it is mostly potatoes.

This not moving, what did it do to your body?

Well, again, I can only tell you about me, you know, um, it totally gave way, we could not, it was asleep, it was state and atrophied I would say. I don't know, is that the word?

Your muscles atrophied?

Uh, Yeah.

And still with the lice, of course.

You know, we were so covered and they were constantly biting and they were... you could work all day long cracking but you could never get ahead of them. They were destroying us, as I said, we developed welts from them.

Did they get infected?

Well, I just remember, I had some problems, yes. I had, you know what happens is, a large welt, maybe it was an infection, and maybe it was the eggs or the larvae of the lice whatever would be underneath. What you had to do is push with your nail to find a spot where it would give and the stuff comes out and there was usually some pus and some yellow, I would imagine it was pus.

And you contracted some sort of infection from this worse than the others in the barn?

Well, yes, it was, my whole head, let me see where was it, um, well, it was from here this whole side was one huge swelling. Um, it was terribly painful and it took another, oh it took years to find, to get rid of it totally, but it was very painful.

While you were still in the barn?

I must have developed this towards the end of the stay in the barn, yes. It was very painful, it would press on my head and I couldn't lay it down, it would throb.

What did your parents do about it? Did they comfort you?

They used to press on it and pus would come out, but it would reinfect over and over again. I don't remember being comforted, I just remember pain.

And the farmer did not offer anything?

No, no.

There were no medical supplies, medicine or anything like that?

Oh, no. Nothing.

He brought the food and the bucket.

That's it. It was enough. Listen, we were grateful for that.

You were there for at least two years?

At least.

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