Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Larry Brenner - December 13, 1981

Mauthausen 2

Had you heard of gas chambers before?


So, what did you think when this man...

Because he told us. Then when we arrived there...

The other inmates.

...other inmates immediately, immediately start with gas chamber, gas chamber, gas chamber. No, no, we didn't know about gas chamber. And uh, but we, then we found out, first day we found out what gas chamber means. They said that it's gas chamber's out of action you don't have to worry about it. But a couple of things... One thing happened. Well, we stayed there about, maybe for two, three weeks. And after three weeks I would say that fifty percent of the people, of this five thousand people, they uh, expired, expired from hunger. Because by the time we got there, they were some of them bad shape and no food. And, and uh, it became so bad that the dead they did not bury, and you walked on this camp and you see people laying on the ground and moaning, moaning, but no sign saying help, help and you just pass by and hope to look up and say that it won't happen to you. And uh, everybody it happens, all those people they collected them and they put them in a, in a... they piled them up on top of each other. So uh, and we seen bodies piled up there. Lucky it was wintertime and it didn't decompose themselves. And... but it wasn't the smell wasn't even so bad because some of them froze, you know, these bodies froze. The morning we used to get up to uh, hear some shots, so we looked up in the main camp and almost every morning we seen the execution for Fatherland. We didn't see what, but we found out they were mostly Russian prisoners.

Was there a crematorium working?

I don't know the crematorium was working or not. And also we seen... and we seen every morning people from the camp going to work and there was a big uh, "choirare" of stone.

Wife: Quarry.

Quarry of stone.


Granite quarry, they had to... And we seen them carry it on their back, stones back and forth. But we were separated from the main camp. We were separated from the main camp with wires, with wire uh, gates. Now one incident I uh, remember, this SS soldier is coming in with two loaf of bread and a dog, a German shepherd with him. And he's coming and he's smiling and he's sitting down, but we didn't do nothing. He was sitting, sitting down among the prisoners. And he smiles like he's a good boy. And he says to the boys, who would like to have a bread. Naturally everybody is jumping. So, he said, "Okay you two boys, you kind of look, you're hungry, you want to have bread? Okay," he says, "I'll tell you what, start hit each other... to hit each other and the one who succeeds beating the other one almost to death, you get the bread from me." And almost he couldn't do nothing. Those two boys started to, to hit each other in the face 'til one of, 'til both of them were bloody and uh, one of them passed out. And this damn soldier just spoke up nice, with smile, then run and goes away with bread and with the dog. So, we were there for about uh, two weeks I would think, from between March fifteen through April... kind of two or three weeks or so.

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