Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Isaac Engel - June 16 & 25, 1992

Relations with Germans


But he wasn't bad. Tall guy. As a matter of fact, he picked me to take, to come in that plant to work. Yes, he, they were looking like uh, uh, blacksmiths, something. I told him I was a blacksmith. Because I heard in the camp there a guy told me that this is a lighter work you know, it's a, it' a better--a job. Not a bad job. So I went there. He died and his brother-in-law. They both died from typhoid. Because they catched from the people they were came to the factory. Then they woke up and then they, they put out signs in German, in Polish anybody in which he will come to the factory and he has--and he is sick, he's going to be shot on the spot. That he go to the hospital there and they were organizing in a barrack a hospital there. And they lay the people down there. Because otherwise uh, people were going with this, while they were sick they were going to the factory. So then they had a hospital there. They--but, didn't much but at least people weren't taken out and be shot. Some of 'em survived and some of 'em didn't. Some of 'em survived in the hospital. They uh, laid there I don't know for eight--ten days and then, then they survived. And some of 'em didn't make it. So that's when they had a hospital.

Do you know, was there medicine? Do you know if there was medicine there?

Not that I know. Not that I know.

What about the lice. Were they bad?

The lice?



Did, did you, did people change clothes? Did they bathe?

If they had.

You brought your own clothes.

They--I used--yeah. You had, you had clothes and uh, was--I can talk for myself. Some people did and some people didn't. I used to wash myself in cold water. There wasn't any warm water to wash there. It was outside, warm, cold water. And I used to bring soap. You know what kinda soap, like uh, not like Ajax or something like that. They were washing--see, they didn't have any brass or copper. That was in short supply. So they were making their bullets from plain iron. And what they did, they were washing 'em. First they made these, the uh, bullet from, from iron. Like it was, look like this here, a little longer and thinner. And then uh, and they were washing them in this kinda soap. And then after that, they dry it out. They have 'em layin' ironed out. They put some kinda paint on it. Lacquer. Some of 'em. And that's they were using 'em. Because uh, brass and copper it was a short supply. So I took some of the soap and I--you know, everything, I mean, you had your eyes open. Whatever thing. Because you only had one, one chance. One time a cha...sometimes twice you didn't get the same chance.

So you organized.

I saw some soap and I washed myself with that soap. This was like very hard soap. It was like, what can I tell you, it was like rough, you know. It was li...i...i...it wasn't uh, we didn't get any soap. So uh, I washed myself everyday. And I was in, maybe not--pretty soon I used to wash myself you know up to here. So most of the people I worked with, this was a clean factory. They were all pretty clean. The, the other factories there were some other factories where they were working making the grenades and stuff like this and, and uh, they, they, they were very--this was a dirty job. And some of 'em keep themselves, most of 'em didn't. They didn't. They were just impossible. They just didn't, they have the courage. You had to have the courage to do it though. They didn't do it. So. It was uh, it was hell. It was a very bad conditions. And we went from Skarzysko to Chenstochov in 1944 when the Russians start, start up moving. So then they liquidate Skarzysko and they took us to Chenstochov. Chenstochov...

So you were in Skarzysko for over a year.

Oh yeah, I was from Skarzysko from 19...the end of 1942, like right in the end of '42, '43 between--around Christmas time it was I remember, until '44 in mid...in middle in summer, in '44. At least a year and a half.

A year and a half.

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