Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bella Camhi - November 18, 1999

Attempts to Escape (Continued)

Let me... I want to come back with what you did with the teacher. But let's finish with Mala first.

Oh yeah, Mala.

Mala tried to escape, no?

Yeah. And this is why...

She was caught.

She was caught. And then uh, she was ha...al...almost half gone, you know. They hang her up, they make a loop and they hang her...


for us to see, all of us. They took all the blocks out, facing, you know. Gee, it was about twenty-two blocks. Big area, big area. The farms, you know. And we all watch pulling the, the rope.

She had already been tortured, hadn't she?




And what happened?

But she, she wouldn't have been alive, let's say, if the war finish that day. Somebody was going to kill her anyway.

And how did she kill herself?

On the fence. You didn't have to do, suffer much. You go touch the fence and you go over there.

So she escaped from the noose. She got off from the noose and she touched the fence.

Right. Yeah, yeah.

And what, and what did everybody do? What did the prisoners do?

Nothing. We all stayed there and we says you know, we better hold our horses. Not do anything wrong. This was a, a se...uh, it was publicized for us to behave. That if we have in mind to run away, this is what's going to happen


Oh I remember that day. Oh my God, uh. I talk with her. Yeah. Because there were good-looking guys over there. They're--in spite of what they were doing to us, the Jews, love is blind.

Mala was Jewish.



Uh-huh. Pretty lady. Pretty. You see, at that time you were 140, 150 pounds, you were a twiggy. Today, you know. [laughs] She was on the hefty side, you know. But, oh, pretty lady.

So you spoke to her in German?

Uh, no, I spoke to her... Oh in German, yeah. In Yiddish. And I spoke Polish too.

So what did, so what did when did you talk to her?

Oh, everyday. She was in our Blocko. She will come with him you know, because she was in charge of so many blocks.

She was like a Blockälteste.

Right. ??? Yeah. You see, you were a Blockowa for uh, inside, like a janitor...


you know. And everybody, you have always somebody ahead of you to take orders. You know, they were given it. And everything was done brother to brother. Who burn you? Your brother. It was not the German that was burning. The Jew. And it was told. If you're not going to do it, then you're going to go first. And a lot of people did, did go first. They didn't want to do it. They just didn't want to do it.

Do you think if--she was, she was a Blockowa, is that?

A Blockowa. A head, you know. Yeah, she was assistant with uh Tauber, I mean, we ??? you know, because he looked so. You look at him and you make in your pants.

What's Tauber?

Uh, uh, we meant them like a toughie, a tough guy.

Oh, I see. This was her, this was her lover.


Do you think she may have helped some of the prisoners? She had, she had some influence?

To run away?

No, not to run away. I mean, but to get food or to...

Oh yeah. Oh this, yeah. I had my cousin. She used to steal me everything. Although I coulda gotten it myself.

And then...

I am a go-getter. I mean, even something when it's on sale, I will go three, four rounds. The woman will say you know, "You were just here." I say, "So what?"

But why did she try to escape if she had it so, so good? She had her lover there.

Well uh, she thought there's no--I, I started giving up too. She thought there's no end to it. The only solution for her was...

Was to run...

to destroy herself.

Was to destroy herself.

Because first of all, if it was you know, let's say today the war is over. Mala won't make it. The Polish people, they were going to tear, tear her apart. But people don't know the feeling that when you have that uh, it's puppy love or whatever you know, you care about somebody, the other person don't know. We don't know what she felt about this guy. I mean, she thought she was going to brain...brainwash all the Germans and we will be set free. It's a dream.

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