Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Franka Charlupski - November 19, 1981


We arrived during the day in Bergen-Belsen, but they wouldn't take us out of the cattle car. We stayed until evening. There was a reason for it. There were dead bodies all over the place. Walking towards the camp, the train stopped at a certain spot, and then you had to walk, I don't know, it was quite a few kilometers. And they wouldn't take anybody in during the day. They waited until it got dark, and that's when we marched in. We got into Bergen-Belsen we're put in a room, I don't even think it was this size. And there were--I don't know how many nationalities--not just Jews, there were Gentiles too--Hungarian, Czechoslovakian, Polish uh, French, you name it. And they were 800 women, in this small camp ???. It wasn't--the size, it wasn't as pleasant at this one, you know, long and narrow and you could understand. Now, we came in from the particular camp that we came out--we were clean. And by clean I mean we didn't have lice. And the people that were there, the lice were just jumping all over the place. And we had to hide our loaf of bread, because the others were so hungry, that they would just rip you to pieces to get that bread off of you. You find all this out very fast. And you're very selfish. And under these circumstances you're very selfish--you only look out for yourself. We stood there for quite a while and naturally sooner or later, you have to go to the uh, bathroom. So I asked someone and she shows me straight ahead. Outside that room straight ahead there was a barn. And I was afraid to go by myself, so uh, my girlfriend says to me, "I'll go with you.' And as we walked toward that uh, barn. I says, "You know, it's a funny smell. It's not a toilet smell. This is something else." She says, "You're imagining things." And I says, "Ruth, it's not a toilet smell." And as we got closer there were arms, legs, head--separated the bodies, you know, they uh, disintegrated? Is that what it is? No that's not that word.

That's right.

Uh, and the uh, the parts fall, uh...




Okay. And the toilet was uh, you know, these uh, long boards with holes. That was the smell, that I found walking towards that uh, toilet. You can imagine what it does to you. Uh...

Think that was the worst you'd seen, up till then?

No, I saw even worse. We'll get to that in Bergen-Belsen.

But up till then, even worse than Auschwitz this was?

Auschwitz I didn't see anything.

You were only there a few days.

This was really the worst--this was the first most horrible experience. Then we had to drag the bodies into these um, graves, you know, throw all the bodies in. We dragged them through the, through the, through the grounds, you know, they were laying all over the place. And uh, they must have felt already that the English are coming, because the English liberated Bergen-Belsen. So uh, they were cleaning up the place. And throwing them all into a--what do you call it? One grave. What do you call it? SB : A pit.



And that's all we were doing. You got through with this and you thought, "God throw me in there too already, because it's just, just inhuman." And I don't think anybody can--and they were standing there watching us and whipping with the whip, we didn't do it fast enough. And the water was poisoned in Bergen-Belsen. When we came in the water was poisoned already. We were only seven days in Bergen-Belsen, before we were liberated. Uh...

And this woman--this German woman?

Oh I'll, I'll get to her. That was after we were liberated.


Um, and naturally some days--I don't have to tell you--there was no food, no water. We couldn't drink the water. Uh, they gave us coffee, but we wouldn't drink it. So we would use it to wash ourselves. Coffee--dishwater! We would wash ourselves with it, because you were afraid to touch it. You knew it was poisoned.

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