Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bert Dan - November 17, 1982

First Experience in Labor Camp

One soldier came over to me--maybe I was dressed a little better than the next guy. There were several--many, many people and I wasn't the only one, but they just--this particular time. One soldier comes over to me and he says, "Come with me I want to talk to you." And I asked him, I said, "Do you want me I should take my, my suitcase along?" He said, "No you can leave it here with your buddies and you come with me and then you will come back." I said, "Okay." And I went in there and there was a, a--I wouldn't measure--I would say about thirty soldiers who were all designated to watch, you know, for this uh, ???. And there was one Jewish man and he was a--you only had to look at him and you could tell that he wasn't all together, you know, he was a little bit on the deranged side, you know. And they kept on beating on him and they told him to sing some Jewish songs and he didn't--he was standing there and saying nothing, you know. And uh, one soldier came over to me and he says, "Now you tell your, your buddy who is your brother, tell him that he has to sing that, a Jewish song, the ???" that was--I don't know how they knew about that uh, particular song, but they want him to sing the "Vetahair Lebeinu" and I should tell him. I said, "Okay," and I asked him, "Why don't you sing the Vetahair Lebeinu?" He looked at me and he said "No." "You know, Vetahair Lebeinu" He has chosen that he's not singing. And then he told me, "I want you to get a hold of him and hit him in the face and maybe that will change his mind." I said, "I am not going to do that." He said, "Do you know what that means that this is an order and you have to do it." So I went over to this guy and I did this to him--I just slapped him. I wouldn't hit him if my life depended on it, I wouldn't hit him. And uh, he said, "Is that the way you, you hit him?" I said, "Well, I told you, I am not going to hit him. If you want to kill me that is your privilege but I am not going to, to, to hit another Jewish man who's having the same problem like all of us and I have no right of doing it and I am not going to do it." He said, "Okay, now wait a minute." And one of the soldiers went over and he grabbed this man like this here and hit him right in the face with his fist. And the guy fell down and he started breathing. When he got up, he said, "Now you show him how to hit." And then--as I told you before, you know, he wasn't all there, you know, and he came over to me and he got a hold of me and hit me in the face. He knocked me actually out, and I wasn't uh, breathing either but he--actually this guy was a heavyset big fellow, you know. And he hit me and he knocked me and I was bleeding from my mouth. And then, actually I got up. He said, "You get the hell out of here." And he laughed at me and, and they threw me out. The other guy was left in there and they let me out and I was glad that that was the end of that.

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