Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Larry Brenner - December 13, 1981


Had you ever heard of it before?

Never heard of it, I didn't know what Mauthausen is, I didn't know what the name is, I didn't know what the concentration camp was. Because although we were in this place in Fertorákos, that was not a concentration camp per se because we still not, we weren't on a barra... we didn't, we couldn't escape, but still, we weren't under, as a concentration camp as such. We arrived on a town where we had to march there and then we, we uh get into this big place where in the front says Arbeit Macht Leben Frei, and that means that the work makes...


...life free. And at first I thought maybe going this I'm kind of in a sanatorium or something. So we walk through that camp and right behind the camp we seen big, big cells made of uh, canvases. Huge, huge cells of canvases. There where they put us. Because what happened, the camp was so filled up it can't accommodate five thousand or ten thousand more people. And we staying in the sun here and there, now I had saved up some food for myself. Maybe I had about a couple of pounds of sugar, a couple of pounds of uh, bread and, and uh, bacon. This was the major because bacon didn't get spoiled, sugar kept, and bread was okay too. So, rumor goes that they going to take all the clothes away from us, they're going to put this uh, Häftling outfit on us and no belonging. So, I gave away... I ate as much, I ate it and I gave away all my food, except I kept myself about a pound of sugar. If I get it... Sugar, if you take one spoon of sugar a day, it's good, high calorie and whatever it will be. And we were staying, staying there and then these big cells, they put us in these big cells, maybe about a thousand of us in one big cell and we were put down like sardines like through each other, on the, on the plain ground. And I put my rucksack, what I have left, under my head and I fall asleep. Next time I wake up, everything is gone. I... Somebody took my whole rucksack. But it to... but it bothered me. It's not so much that they took everything, but I didn't have a, didn't have any dish what to eat from, just in case they going to give you anything to eat or to drink. I didn't have my uh, dish to, where to collect my food. So, this one guy, he kind of had his conscience bothered him and he got me one. Then later I find out he's the one who took my whole shmeer, but anyway it didn't bother me because this is the way life was over there. It wasn't uh, life was uh, if uh, you remember one particular later on in, in the story that uh, one fellow was with his father over there. His father passed away. His first reaction was to go to his father's belonging and maybe find some piece of bread. So, any human feeling was really gone by then. Everybody thought by himself how to save himself. Now by that time, in uh, Mauthausen, the concen... the, the gas chamber we found out later on. What happens there, one young Gentile, Polish boy, somehow he got a free access running back and forth and he befriended my friend. I don't know why he befriended him--a matter of fact, he brought him a little bread here and there--and he told us that the gas chamber is out of action, so you don't have to worry they will take you to gas chamber. And the reason why they put us away from all that because, as I told you, the uh, concentration camp was so filled up that they didn't have room there and they couldn't gas us, and uh, they kept us there for about two weeks in Mauthausen. Now in Mauthausen itself we didn't do a damn thing. We just was uh, waiting for some food to eat. They, they gave us almost zilch. They gave us uh, black coffee, it looked like coffee, and they gave us maybe some water to drink a day and one day uh, one uh, one dish a day which was so-called soup, but it was almost nothing in it. And we actually was waiting for a time to die. Everybody was resigned to it. You didn't know how.

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