Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Cymerath - June 8, 1982

Arrival at Auschwitz

When the doors first opened at Auschwitz, what was the first thought...

The first...

that you had? What did you see first, what did you hear, smell?

Nothing. The first--when the train came in it was, it looked to me like a forest. And it looked. because the train, the, the track was going through and, and both sides was trees. And we were unloaded in that little area. But further we started, you know, they started to chase us. Then we came in already to that, to that gate in the uh, Auschwitz, "Arbeit Macht Frei," it was a big sign. It was the uh, iron, big iron gate, "Arbeit Macht Frei." So, we still didn't know, you know, if that's true, if they got real ovens, you know. Now we are in uh, yeah, in Auschwitz. And when they chased us in, in those barracks, first they told us we going to take uh, you're going ??? taking a bath. And this I heard already that if they, they, they tell you you're going to take a bath you'll never come out from there. But it wasn't in our case. We got in, they gave us a piece of soap. We got in, we took a bath and we left all our, we, we had civilian clothes in those camps, in Starowicea [Starowice]. And over there we went out the other door and we had already the striped uh, a, a jacket and a pair of pants and that's it.

Were you shaved too?

Right away in the, in the uh, we, we took that, that bath, you know. Those barbers right away shaved off complete hair.

Prisoners, barbers?

Yeah. And after that they took us to the barracks and in the barracks was already uh, inside was like uh, a Block&amul;lteste. He was the, the uh, leader of that uh, barrack.

Also a prisoner?

Each barrack--he was a German. But those, those were the worst. This was all--it wasn't uh, regular Germans, this was Germans what Hitler got 'em locked up uh, homosexuals uh, uh, murderers. They got those positions to oversee, overseers, you know, on us. All those Block&amul;ltestes, you know, they called them. They got all the authority. They could kill a person and throw 'em away and without any explanations to the Germans. They had all the authority. The only time, when we marched out, then we had the SS guarding us with machine guns every morning.

This for Appell. Was there Appell in the morning, the roll?

Appel, Appellplatz. We got up, you know, the morning about five thirty, six o'clock, who knows, we didn't have no watches, but it was in the wintertime, still dark. Dark outside. And we stood outside 'til it got a little bit light. First they gave us in the morning uh, uh, ersatz coffee in a ??? that means in a little uh, dish. You know, we, that dish, that's all we had. And a piece of bread, very thin, in the morning. And this 'til twelve o'clock, and twelve o'clock we had a soup, Buna soup, they called it. And when we came back to the camp we had another soup. And this was the daily food.

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