Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Isaac Engel - June 16 & 25, 1992

Conditions in Skarzysko

What were the living conditions like? You didn't live in the factory, you lived in a barracks.

Barrack. Terrible.

Tell me about it.

We were laying on a, lately, on a--by the end, by the last half a year, or eight months, something like that, they were building barracks. Before we were laying on one big place. It was a big place and we were laying on, on the woods, just like you're seeing on a, a, sometimes you see they were looking out, you know. And they were divided like bunks, maybe five--six of 'em high. And there was a, a plane of wood with some little straw on it. No mattresses of course, just a little straw. The, the conditions were terrible. And then when people were start dying, and then they had no place. When they all were already liquidated all the cities, and there was no place where to bring in workers from. So then they start, so they start to make better conditions. The food was a little better. And they were building barracks. Like we were like forty people in a barrack. Were also bunk bed, but just two of 'em, double. And there were two in a bed sleeping. It was a different story. With fresh straw they brought in off and on. This was at the last eight months. But before the, the ter...the conditions, the living conditions were terrible.

What were your, what kind of relationships did you have with the other prisoners?

Very good relationships.

I mean, did you talk regularly?

Oh sure! Sure, sure, sure, sure.

They were all Jews.

Of course. There was no n...no non-Jews in that camp. In Dora there was a...already all kind. But over there in Skarzysko it was only Jews there. And the reason why they were there is because they were Jews.

Did you ever talk about what had happened to your families?

We talked, but it...We still, everybody wanted to live. It was a, in a...agreement, nobody commit suicide as far as I know, in the camp, in the camp I was. They all wanted to live through. They knew that the Germans were going to lose the war. No question, because it was already going bad for them. In '42 it started. But in '43 it was really, it was going bad for them. Oh, there was some news coming in, you know. The Poles brought in some news, they came into work, they were talking about it. And uh, like I was working with Poles together. Men and women there. In Skarzysko there was men and women in the factory in there. Because there were some light jobs there. Polish women there too. And some of 'em brought in--they came--the women they were stealing uh, bullets too. But uh, they did it probably for money. Because this was big money involved. And uh, we knew already that they were going to lose the war. No question about it. The war was going bad for them. But uh, we didn't know if we're going to hold out, we can survive. Because if they would have time, they would liquidate us too. They just didn't have enough time. Because like Treblinka, they went and they made before they left there, they cleaned everything up, so there no sign left there. But in Auschwitz they didn't have time, already because the Russians were right behind there. They started going in fast. And when I was in Skarzysko still there was uh, the Russians were standing by the Wis...Wisła was in Polish ???. There was a waterway. It was dividing Poland like half-way. It was going around from Warsaw. And uh, they were standing there and on the other side in Warsaw--there called Praga, Praga--they were standing there for six months and they didn't move. And they, they encouraged the Poles to uprise. But they didn't move. Later when they were in the uprising, they didn't give 'em any help and they didn't move. Because they wanted them to kill out all these guys, to get rid of these guys. 'Cause they, they, they were all against Ru...the communism.

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