Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Ehrmann - May 13, 1983


How long were you in Dachau?

We were in Dachau less than a week, about maybe five days, four and a half days. Uh, I can't recall exactly, you know, the amount of days because it's sort of fading out already, but I know it was less than a week. Um, when we, when we arrived in Mühldorf, we arrived in a forest. We were taken, marched from the train uh, to that forest into a barbed wire area where there were some tents pitched inside the barbed wire area. We were told this was going to be our camp. We were given some food. Uh, next morning, my brother and I were taken out of that camp into a camp, a form...a formal camp with barracks, with wooden barracks, about maybe three miles away from there next to an airport and we were put up there. They had a uh, they had military barracks there, the SS who were manning the camp uh, were in those barracks. There was a woman's camp about ten barracks or so in that complex and there was a total of about maybe uh, thirty or so barracks where we were housed. There were some prisoners who were there who came directly from Auschwitz. There were several transports that came there uh, before us. We had uh, proper kitchen facilities in that camp, we had uh, a hospital barrack, we had a storeroom barrack where one of the SS officers lived. He was in charge of the uh, uh, supplies um, clothes and food um, and within about three or four days we were assigned to march out to the area where the construction was going on. At that point uh, they were, all they were doing really is they had small narrow track trains uh, construction trains, lorries, that was, they were transporting gravel, making an artificial mountain, which turned out to be a hangar type huge structure of uh, about maybe six feet thick concrete wall, maybe even thicker than that, which was supposed to be bomb proof and uh, when that was finished we started scoop, to scoop out the gravel from under this bowl shaped uh, structure and that was to be an underground aircraft factory. Uh, the ultimate main uh, work area was uh, dragging cement bags fifty kilos, a hundred pound cement bags on our backs walking up wooden planks about, planks uh, twenty feet tall to top of cement mixer machines and pouring those bags into the, into the machines. The ready mixed cement was then taken away with these lorries into, to pour into the, into the uh, ground. That Kommando, the cement Kommando it was called, was a very effective killer. They didn't need any gas chambers, they didn't need any executions, nobody survived that Kommando for more than a few weeks. People were uh, literally within a few days, the cement, the dust got onto their lungs and they dried up, they just dried up, developed, they developed, I guess, I don't know, maybe tuberculosis or whatever. Their lungs were affected. Uh, their faces became--people started looking like birds, their noses like beaks. That's how effective that cement was. And they developed water retention problems uh, cankers, open wounds that didn't uh, heal.


From cement.

They were Musemann?

They were, they were--that's where we became familiar with the word Muselmann. Uh, we literally saw people keeling over as they were walking with the cement, that they became machines, even if they didn't have anymore strength, they just walked with those cement bags. And we saw them keel over, fall off the plank, or fall on top of the machine, dead. Just keeling over and, and going dead. Every day there were wagons, there was a Kommando, to pick up these dead people and take 'em.

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