Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Cymerath - June 8, 1982

Organizing in Auschwitz

By organizing, you mean...

Organized, that means


Yeah. That, this was the word...


in the camp, organization. That means stealing. And uh, I risked my life because I worked in the factory in ???. I had, I could, I worked with paint, let's put it that way. And in the barracks was wooden bunk beds, three wooden bunk beds. And they're made from boards. And they were painted. But during the years, you know, when you step on them you go up and down they get this--and it depends who takes care of that barrack. That particular, when I was there, that guy, he was a, he had a, a green point, that means he killed somebody. But still he liked uh, clean.

The Block&amul;lteste? Is this the Block&amul;lteste?

The Block&amul;lteste, yeah. So, he told me, he says, he saw me everyday, I mean, he, he knew everybody by the name. He says, "If you can bring home paint, you, I'll, I'll leave you in the, in the barrack and you stay--they had, they could do everything--you stay and paint every bunk bed, but you got to bring first a lot of paint and then I'll, I'll release you. I'll go out on the Appellplatz and I'll talk to that Stürmfurhrer and, you know, he'll leave you for two weeks, or a week, you know, how long it's going to take you. You're going to stay here and work and I'll give you food and you're not going to be hungry." This is already a, a paradise, right? Now, how to get the paint? Because when you walk out, we were going in fives and they were counting, you know. Let's see, if it marched out, my, my group was two hundred and eighty painters in the morning, two hundred and eighty. A commando, mali commando, that means painting commando. And two hundred and eighty has to come back. And not to come back with, with, with bags. Just march in with anything, yeah. But I started one day, I poured in a gallon of paint what, what, you know, I used, I had--they didn't count how many paint I should use. They, they brought me in the morning, let's see, ten gallons. They put it in gallon. They know I'm not going to drink it. And uh, I used maybe four or five gallons, you know. So, I still had a few gallons left. But one day, I says, I'm going to take a chance. I'll take one gallon. Whatever it's going to happen, it's going to happen. I says, I'm hungry anyway. I got to take that chance. And I marched in, and, you know, your heart, you know you're not supposed to bring in nothing. And I'm holding that gallon and the minute I, you know, got through that uh, already that, that gate inside. Inside you already lose, you know. You can't run, you can't do anything, that's all. So, I went to the barracks and I talked to the Block&amul;lteste. I says, "That's the first gallon." He said, "Okay, try everyday a gallon." He says, "In two weeks you're going to have ten, more than ten gallon of paint. And the minute we got ten gallon of paint..." And that's what I did. Everyday I brought home a gallon. And then he left me there. He uh, went out to the stürm uh, in the morning and he says, I uh, need him, he's going to paint, you know, the barracks. What he cares, you know. So, instead of two eighty it went out two seventy-nine. And uh, I were, at least two weeks I was not hungry. Because they went in the kitchens and they got extra bread. If somebody died--listen--if we were in, in the barracks, let's say two hundred and eighty people. He--every week was missing people. Every week was missing. But he still collect in the kitchen for the two hundred and eighty. Sometimes he had already in the barracks two hundred and fifty. Still two hundred and eighty bread, but he didn't give us. He had his already organization what to do with it. He changed it for whiskey, for other things, you know. But that's what--everything for bread. Everything. Bread was like gold. I--a lot of times I had, you know, two weeks, every two weeks we got a shirt. We were lucky. It was just, it was a clean shirt, but there was patches and--but if he knew you, that Block&amul;lteste, he gave you a, a better shirt because he knew what, what you're doing with that shirt. See, if I got a good shirt, no patches, a decent shirt, even washed but in good shape yet, in the factory was Germans uh, civilians and they didn't have in the war, you know, shirts and stuff like that. They brought me an old shirt because I have to give back the next couple weeks, you know, by the, you have to give back a shirt. It doesn't matter, tored or patched, you have to give back that, another shirt. And you get another shirt. So, for that good shirt he brought me an old schmata and, and a bread. A loaf of bread for that shirt. I went in and, and uh, it was the uh, outside. When we worked, it was like uh, a john, you know, which you go...


outhouse they call it. I went in there and this you got to be careful because the SS were watching, you know. But in the bathroom they let you go. You had to run in and take off that shirt, you know. And you can imagine, they put out and take the uh, the new shirt and hide it underneath and go out, you know, and talk to that German, he give you the bread. Now when you got the bread, where you going to put it? You work, he's watching, you know. So, you got to be in that john and break the bread of pieces, in, in, in, in the pockets. You know, put it in--whatever you can. You can't carry a loaf of bread because you would be punished because, see, they would force you, who gave you this bread, you know. And that time just for exchanging you could be shot. This was the law. No, with nobody, no civilians, no deals and no nothing. Nobody should help you. You work, go to the camp and go back to work. But no interfering with civilians whatsoever. And this was, we were there 'til they started to bomb. And then it was no good. From then on they were bombing. See, all the uh, barracks, all in the kitchen from that, the camp was built, the kitchen was going on, on steam heat, steam. Cooking, everything. But when they bomb the camps, they knocked out the uh, the, the pipes, you know. It was cold. No food whatsoever. But at least, you know, we thought maybe. So, whatever's going to happen. If they bomb, I wish they bomb every second, so it's going to be an end, you know, to the war. Never. We still, we had a chance to evacuate in 1944 in uh, January that camp, Auschwitz was complete evacuated.


In 1945. No, in forty...January '44. January '44.

Monowitz, you mean, was...

Yeah. In '44 I still was liberated in April '45. Oh, you're right. Uh, January we were evacuated in 1945. And I was liberated in the 24th of April in 1945.

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