Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Isaac Engel - June 16 & 25, 1992

Conditions in Gross Rosen

This was in the winter now.

Oh yes, yes. It was uh, there was no, I don't believe they had, there was snow on the ground or not, I don't remember that. It was in the winter but it wasn't that cold yet. It was uh, maybe in that's uh, it was in December, in December like. And then uh, when we came to the border, cross the German border, we saw signs there in German that says that all the Germans from this year, from eighteen to uh, or from sixteen, should uh, sign in. For Germans to be signed in there. Because they wanted to put, put 'em on in uh, uniforms and then fight. So they, they took us, the Ger...the, the SS took all the men on their command and the guards, the red shirts took the women. So then they, they wanted cover themself up so they shouldn't have to go in the front. Otherwise that they would have to go in the front. So and they took us to Gross Rosen. This is the first time we saw a concentration camp. This was a real concentration camp. I understand nobody heard so much about 'em. This was near Breslau. Uh, uh, but I understand this was built the same time as they made Dachau and uh, and the other camp. There was three uh, camps. They, uh...


Uh? In Buchenwald. In Buchenwald. As far as I know. There was--so they took us there. This were the first time we saw a real concentration camp. And there was only SS and uh, and were there--the, the Kapos they were going around with--they were, they were not just Jews. There were all kinda people there. Poles and Russian and Germans. They were going around--and from Holland and from... Going around like with baseball bats.


They were hitting--yeah. Were hitting people. And most of 'em were Germans. These were criminals. Matter of fact that the Blockälteste the one who would uh, from the house, the one who was in charge in our--well, he was also a German. And he had a number six. I had eighty-four thousand number. He had number six. He was the sixth prisoner in Gross Rosen. Because they took in the-- those criminals. They were in charge. They took 'em in, so they bring in the other people. And, and this was a--eal criminals, you know, hardened criminals. Because the others, the politisch--politic, they had a red uh, angle on it.

A triangle, yeah.

Right. But these, they have green. These were the criminals. That they should know the differential. You know, they gave 'em--and he used to, like he used to say it, "I'm going to show you what's look like. I am already eighteen years a prisoner," he says. "And I will show you what, what it's look like." You know, he was a, a proud of himself like. This was all criminals, hardened criminals. And they were in the charge of the camps. And we were there. The food wasn't so bad. This was already in a camp. Uh, escape was out of the question because the, the wires were electric wires--and doubled and--it was just like probably you know, I wasn't in Auschwitz but just like in the, in the other camps. And there was really no work. Just--this was a place, it was stones like. They were, were carrying stones and stuff like this.

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