Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Cymerath - June 8, 1982

Tattoo

Before I ask you about the United States, can, can I ask a few questions about what we covered already. I notice you have a number on your arm.

Yeah.

You didn't tell me how you got that. When did they tattoo...

This is happened, this is happened the, the number they gave me in Auschwitz after I was shipped from Buna to Monowitz, to Auschwitz. In that time, that man--see, we didn't know, but the number meant that to live.

You were going to be a worker.

Who had a number was picked to work. But that time we didn't know what the number is for. All of a sudden, you know, was a table outside and you had to stay, give your arm and they, you know, this number doesn't, doesn't come out except the skin...

It's a tattoo.

This was with ink, ink needle. Was specialist, somebody knew uh, how to, that, do that type of work. But you can see how clear, you know, 18-837, Auschwitz.

What was going through your head when that was happening? Do you remember?

We didn't care. It didn't go, you know. I didn't even think, I figure, you know, that something--because the minute I was registered and they asked me what, what I can do, what kind work I can do. I says, modeling. And right away they asked me so many questions, what do you do, because in Europe painting is not like in this country, see. Here, you open up a gallon of paint and a brush and you paint. And in Europe you have to mix your own colors. And you start out from scratch. You buy chalk, comes like flour, you know. And you buy uh, farben, that means the uh, cone, the colors, dry, dry colors.

Dyes.

And oil and how much, the amount, you learn already from experience. And everything is mixed. You put it everything in a pail, whatever the amount, rooms you have to do, you know. And you mix your own paint. And when you pass--I didn't know that time, but I answered all the questions, you know. He told me, what do you when you come in, in a room painting. So, I told him. I wash the walls with soap, powder soap, you know, with a sponge. You wash off everything and the next day you come back and you mix, start mixing, whatever the people pick, you know, what color. So, I passed the exam. And that leaded me right away that I'm going to work painting. I had a suspicion, but still the fear inside. I still had the fear of Auschwitz, you know.


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