Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Cymerath - June 8, 1982

Forced Labor Camp

Now when you were on the, on the uh, forced labor gangs and you were picked up on the trucks?

Yeah, this was, this was all military.

Was it Wehrmacht?

No, SS troops.

Okay.

Gestapo and SS troops and SA. The ???, the yellow shirts with the swastikas, okay. But in the factories was all civilian engineers, you know, they had the authority. A big sign was on the factory, Herman Göring Worker. That means Hermann Göring's factories. And we, and after two, three months we worked there, we couldn't--all of a sudden, a truck came and we got loaded up on that, those trucks. They called us the names, you know. We went out, outside the trucks was standing already. This was SS troops. And los, los, fast. We go up, we went up on those trucks and they took us to a train and we wind up in Lublin.

This was in 1940?

In 1940.

Do you remember when in 1940?

In 1940, it was in summertime, about uh, September, let's say. And they took us on trains, from the trucks to trains and by train, open trains like for cattle, you know, cars. Not closed uh, passenger trains, but open trains uh, transport trains, you know, and they loaded us up and they took us to uh, uh, Lublin. Lublin...

The city of Lublin.

The city of Lublin about fifteen mile outskirts, Lipova 7 was the uh, that camp.

The labor camp?

A labor camp. And this was already built when the Germans took over, you know. That camp was built by the Germans during the time they were occupying. And then they took us to the border. That time they were expecting some war with the, with Russia. So, we were building uh, digging trenches for, for the Germans to hide. ??? they called it, you know. And uh, we worked there and it was terrible. We were standing to here in, in that mud and water. Terrible. A lot of them died in a short time. And I managed to run away. With all the guards, I run away from the camp. I met a Jewish guy from Lublin. He was a roof uh, fixing roofs, a roof layer, you know. And I got acquainted with him and I told him I want to--I'm going to take a chance to run away. He says, okay. He says, "Meet me tomorrow morning and I'll give you a bundle of..." He could, he was from the city. He wasn't in the camp. He was from Lublin, a contractor like, you know. He can, he could take out ten men and bring back, you know. And he knew the guard already. He says, if you--but, he says, "Where you gonna go?" He says, "I got a place for you." I wanted, I wanted to go in, in a forest because, you know, I figure in Europe if you go in a forest you can reach, it takes you a few weeks, but you can reach another cities. Everything. From one forest to the other. It's the only thing you cross like a, a highway, you know, the road. And you got, get in another forest and then you go away. I run again. He gave me a bundle of shingles and he told me, he says, "Listen, you drop the shingles--you have to go up because the guard is watching, you know. You're going to walk a block and then you go to Lubartofska 12, there's a rabbi lives there. You knock on the door and he'll hide you and he'll, he'll, he's going to arrange it uh, that somebody should take you back to your hometown," like to Starowicea [Starowice]. And I went to that rabbi. He hided me out and uh, two days later--but still, everything was risky. But I was lucky, I still had my blonde, light hair. Because on the road--see, I went with a guy--in Europe, they travel from one city to the other with sugar and flour, sackful, you know, a hundred pound sack. They, they transport, you know, from Lublin to Ost...to Starowicea [Starowice] they were carrying product. Do you understand? That time it wasn't that much restricted yet, you know. Some cities was no ghettos. Some cities they made ghettos right away. Lublin was an open city. Nobody from that city was in the camp. They all lived in the cities, they all had stores yet, you know. Nothing was confiscated, but a camp. They brought people from other cities to that, to that city.

Did you know about Majdanek then?

Majdanek?

Majdanek.

Majdanek, I heard when I was already, when I came to Auschwitz. In Poland, we didn't hear nothing about Majdanek. We knew Auschwitz is existing, you know. This was the only camp we heard about, but no Majdanek. Majdanek started when they go--when they made the Judenrein, that means just...

??? right, okay.

out, later. So, I managed to come home. Lucky, I don't know how, because on the roads SS, stormtroopers uh, Gestapo were riding and patrolling and, you know, and I was with that guy, the guy was like a farmer, you know, with a horse and wagon. And didn't--just lucky it didn't check identification. If they would check the i...the identification, they, they got me right there. But this what you take the chance by running away. So, I came back home, to the ghetto.


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