Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Ehrmann - May 13, 1983

Religious Service in Mühldorf

Let's stop just a minute. I'd like to go back, you told me a story a little while ago about a religious service in, in Warsaw and um, sometime ago you also told me a story, a similar story about a service in Mühldorf.

Yeah, we had, we had Yom Kippur services, Kol Nidre, on the eve of Yom Kippur. Uh, in our barrack, our camp was predominantly Hungarian inmates but in our barrack uh, there was a man who we knew from back home uh, Grunberger who was there with his son. He was a relatively young man, in those days about maybe, what, thirty-five, his son was my age and uh, he wrote down the services, the text of the services on a cement bag, brown paper, with a pencil uh, two, three, sheets of it and handed it out. We got permission, we convinced the Hungarian um, Blockältester to let us scrub up the barrack, hang paper on the windows, we lit candles. After dinner, other people from other barracks came in, it was packed, jam-packed, and the guard was posted out at the door just in case some SS come in. He conducted services by memory. It was a beautiful, encouraging experience. Next day, of course, we marched out to work and the uh, SS found out that it's Yom Kippur. Some people, I guess, asked permission to stay in because it's a holiday, whatever, there were some people uh, who did that. Uh, when we came in after work, they denied us food. They told us it's Yom Kippur, you don't have to eat, no food. That was our Yom Kippur in, in uh, in camp. There was another experience uh, of course it was a private experience. Passover came around and that was a time when just before when I came down with typhus. Uh, at that point uh, I made the--in Mühldorf I got out of the cement the very day, the first day I worked there, I only stayed there half of a day. I worked my way ultimately into the kitchen. When bomb...heavier bombing started, I was taken out. I was older, two years older than the level of the kids who were in, in the, the age level of the kids who were in the kitchen and I was commanded out to go out at night and work the bombed damages. One morning I came in from the city with a Kommando from uh, digging trains out uh, my brother as a rule was waiting for me in the morning with a part of food, he gave me cabbage. I was trying to observe Passover and not to eat bread and uh, that was about second or third day into Passover uh, and I couldn't eat the food, I didn't feel good. That's when I came down with typhus. But after that point, I would eat bread, so that we talked about religion before, it was with me, you know, even through this experience. It uh, I really never gave it up and it uh, must of helped me a great deal to have that faith, that blind faith. Um...

Were you thinking always of a reunion? Were you thinking of your family while you were in...

I was, I was thinking of my family. I knew that my parents are gone. I pretty much expected my older sister have gone--by then we knew all the stories, whatever inmates who uh, came from Auschwitz, who went through the whole experience, we met up with inmates who were there fourth or fifth year already. Um, but I had high hopes for my brother, that my older brother, will be reunited with us.

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