Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Isaac Engel - June 16 & 25, 1992

Knowledge of Labor Camp at Skarzysko

This is a continuation of the interview with Isaac Engel, conducted in his home in Southfield, Michigan on the morning of June 25, 1992. The interviewer is still Sidney Bolkosky.

Why don't we begin today with--you were telling me a little bit about what you had heard before about Skarzysko before you were taken there. Had you heard anything about it as a labor camp?

Yeah, we know that uh, there was a munition factory. They had people working there under terrible conditions. They didn't, they didn't give 'em enough food. If you didn't have money you couldn't survive too long in Skarzysko.

Now the money was for bribing...

No, no, no. Plain to buy bread. See, in Poland, in the concentration camps in Poland, in the camps, it wasn't concentration camps, it was like Arbeitslager, they called it.

Labor camps.

Labor camps.


That uh, the, the Poles were, were, came into work. See they got paid. The Poles worked in the camp, so they got paid. They were getting paid. So they came in for the few zlotys, but they came into work. There wasn't that much to live on it. So they were bringing in bread and people were buying. And they were bringing in, like say, a guy I worked there with him, and uh, he, he brought in a bread and I bought a bread from him. Like when he paid like ten zlotys and he was getting twenty zlotys for a bread.

So it was like a black market.


Like a black market in the camp.

Oh yeah, sure. See they were not searched when they came in, in the factory. They, they came in, in a different door where we came in. They took us and... They came in on different place. They were standing there, the blackshirts you know, were standing there. The uh, guards, the Ukrainian guards, of course. And uh, they were not searched by coming in. They were searched by going out. They searched everyone of 'em because there was ammunition there. They were stealing ammunition anyway. Some of 'em just came, they were planning to steal ammunition. Because the, the underground was buying from them their supply. And uh, this was a big like uh, as far as I knew, they were paying like seventy-five zlotys for one bullet. So they were some--there was a guy I worked with him together on the--I worked on a, on a machine, which it was a packing machine. It was going round and round, put in the bullets and they were packing uh, fifteen bullets in a little box. And then was going in twenty bo...these boxes in a bigger box. And then it was going in a wooden crate. Twenty of these box--it was like a uh, and then I belie...yeah, it was three hundred. Three hundred in a box. Yeah, three hundred in a wooden box. And they--so these guys were working with me together. They were actually, they had the better job. We got the, the lower class job. They uh, like this guy they would call uh, in Polish it was a ???. He was like the--what I want to say, like a, like a foreman on this machine. He was watching uh, these machines were packing the bullets. So, automatic. And they were putting the, the uh, the ticket on it, what kind they are on 'em, from what series they were or what number they were from the--they were actually the same size, except every, every uh, load like they had a different serial, a different number. So--and they were there ???. There was two of 'em. And one day they were--they took him away. They caught somebody in the train with bullets. They came in-- secret police came in, Germans of course. And that they came into the Meister, to the one, the, the head from the factory there. It was an SA man. They were all wearing SA man, the uh, uh, uniforms. So and uh, and they called 'em in the office. Hm, and they, and they put handcuffs on him and they took him away.

He was a Polish worker.

Yeah, sure. Two of 'em. And so we found out later, how did they go out, what they do. They took off the seat. They came in with bicycles, most of 'em. There wasn't any other transpor...some of 'em were walking if they were--but bicycles. They took off the seat, and he, he put in uh, bullets in 'em, filled it up with bullets. And he went through and he was searched and it was fine. You know, there were thousands of 'em coming into work. This was a big factory.

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