Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bella Camhi - November 18, 1999

Arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Well, let's talk about when you got there.


The doors opened to the box car.

Uh, right. And again we had to walk quite a distance.

What, what, what did you think when the doors opened? Was it nighttime, was it daytime?

Uh, we happened to be daytime. I mean, evening, but the sun was still shining.

What did you think when you?


What did you see, hear, smell?

You see uh, what I saw, some stupid people that we all shoulda gotten them together and not been there. This was my opinion as an eighteen year old.

You mean you should have fought them.

We had no business there, you know. To take human lifes like those, like animals. Rats, not dogs. Yeah. Big door. Uh, they maintain us over there. It's outstanding. They're clean like a whistle.

The dogs you mean.

No, no, no. The, the whole uh, area. I mean the grounds and uh, uh, it, it's unbelievable. I mean, unbelievable. You were doing the job, but it was you know, on their order. We were in a bar...barracks I think. It was my [laughs] we were in a barrack this big and we were ten people sleeping. Bunk bed. The mattress was straw. No sheets, no nothing. We had one uniform that, I don't know, I wanted to erase it or what. I don't remember that uniform goin off my body. Never. And it bothers me. I mean, you can't wear the same thing two and a half years. And people that been there longer than me. So first thing we got in there. We stood again in line. A good looking young--they pick up the young ones first. Male and female.

The children.

No, no, no, the young one. The ones that can work.

Oh, I see.

And then they ask for professionals. Hair dresses uh, musician, sewing, tailoring, you know. Uh, they put 'em aside. And then they start throwing 'em like animals. The--everybody who had a baby and then they were dead of it. They didn't even wait for the shots. They were already gone. They were shipped from the truck down to the crematoria. Alive. Alive. And you could hear the screamings. Because I was so close to the fence. And this was number one. The, the Birkenau they were with numbers, the blocks. You know, one, and two and three and on and on and on. And then when the--everything it was done, we were in line again and we had our number put on. And it was dot by dot by dot and it was painful. I mean, it was painful.

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