Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Eva Cigler - March 17, 1982

Religious Life in Camps

Before we go any further uh, I meant to ask you, do you remember any religious observances on the part of any of the uh women--Jewish women prisoners in Auschwitz?

Yes. We have experience uh, came Yom Kippur and we was out on the field that time to uh, work and the woman uh, was telling uh, that was a Gypsy uh, German Kapo who take care of us in that place. And the woman said you know, today if they bring the soup twelve o'clock you shouldn't uh, eat it because it's Yom uh, Kippur, we should fast. So sure enough uh, the girls said okay, we're going to do it. We don't know what uh, gonna be the punishment for that one. So a couple girl said, "No soup, I'm not hungry." And they was very surprised, "How come you not hungry when you waiting for the soup already." And they said, "Oh the Jewish Holiday." The woman, the older woman, she was about uh, forty or so that time.

The Gypsy.

No, the Jewish lady tell the Gypsy uh, Kapo.


Uh, it was a Gypsy German Kapo...


uh, we have the holiday.


And he said, start with the soup already, the girl, the German came back and, and throw away all the


soup. And he said, "Now, if it's a holiday, where is your God? How come you said you have a Jewish God gonna all save you. So now you go and bend down and in your bend, in your knees you kneel down and look up in heaven and you're going to see the God. And you pick up the pick and you hold it there for a hour without uh, moving." And then that was our Jewish punishment because the lady said that Yom Kippur is coming. So that's how we stayed there for two hours.

Do you remember any other observances, any other times?

Not uh, we know uh you know, when it's going to come the holiday. But we didn't uh, observe it. We was afraid to open our uh, mouth, now it's a holiday you can't go out to work. When it's work and they move you, you better move. Because it's no uh, Jewish observation. You just shed the tears and that's all.

You were talking about April 1944 when you were at uh, Birk...Birkenau.


What happened at that camp?

At that time already uh, they wanna burn that camp because uh, the people was almost the half a camp uh, dead and they didn't uh, uh, buried, the German didn't buried them they just piled on each other. And they didn't have a chance already to bring in a brigade or something to get rid of the evidence.


And then the German left the camp. And they baked the bread and put the poison in there. They want to poison the people who still living there.

Who were left in the camp.

Left alive. But they didn't have a chance to bake the bread because already was too close the English army.


And the bread when they--when we was liberated in that day, the came with that, not with microphone in the camp. Uh, people you liberated if you had something to eat don't touch nothing because everything is po...poisoned the bread because they find the bread, they 'posed to bake it up and it's all green, the dough. So anyway, we, we didn't have bread, they didn't have a chance to uh, bake it out so uh, who still was alive it's fate uh, un...uh, poisoned.

Did any people get any poison and die immediately from it?

No, because...

Do you remember?

No, I didn't remember. But they was dying, uh. They don't have to poison us there...


because we were uh, had the typhus.

You were all dying anyway.

And all of them dying. I don't think we was about fifty-two pounds uh, more when they liberate. Just bones, bones, bone. You could see the skeleton you know, on your face. If you see each other we get used to each other...


but uh, just uh, when we see other people just like skeleton walking. Just the bones, uh...

A Musulmann.

Yeah, a Musulmann, just like how they uh, look.

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