Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sylvia Feld - July 28, 1982

Working in the Factories in Stutthof and Drażeń

What camp did they send you to?

NF: Stutthof. [whispering]

SF: They send us to Stutthof.

NF: Near Danzig. [whispering]

SF: Near Danzig. Then I found myself there with my younger sister and mein older sister. But they separate men from women then uh, we didn't know anymore where her husband went and my other brother-in-law supposed to be alive too and we never saw him since then. But my sister was with us in ghetto and she worked very hard and I just remind myself what I didn't said before. Then uh, she had kind of uh, lung disease tuberculosis a little bit. And, and she uh, couldn't go, she went once to the doctor but in Łódź we didn't have any medications to help her. And then she came to Auschwitz with us and went to the uh, working place, Stutthof. Then uh, we start getting advice to, where to go to work. She worked very little and started being sick. And, and uh, they fed us over there like a slice of bread for breakfast and for lunch they gave us in a little dish everybody had to keep the dish with them and to uh, uh, to uh, hide the dish because if you lost this dish you couldn't get the little bit of soup and the soup was a glass of water inside and maybe three pieces of little potato and this you had to survive for a whole day. I kept my slice of bread in my chest holding tight to myself because I was afraid if I eat it up the bread then I die.

She's just making noise on the paper, it, it goes into the microphone.

SF: I, I kept it with me all the time even in my sleep. At that time in Stutthof was 3,500 women. Like I can prescribe--was like three big barracks and this was divided for all three of us. I was laying on the ground next to my older sister and my younger sister and trying to hold onto them and I felt this is everything what I've left now. And the next day they send me and my sister to work which early in the morning when we had Appell when it was still dark like five o'clock in the morning, there was standing in line and afterwards we were sending to work. A few days later then uh, when I went to work my sis... older sister didn't feel good she couldn't go then she was laying on the floor there in the barrack and our Oberscharführer came with a big dirty lies and he asked the women what they were there then who know how to sew then they have a special factory for making clothes. All kinds of dresses, clothes and who may, knows how to sew then they gonna be occupied to go to work. Then my sister wants to go to work because she felt the work what we did like shuffling potatoes and putting from one uh, place, the potatoes to another one and carrying and doing such hard work was too hard for her and, and they didn't gave us anything to eat we couldn't even eat a raw potato and she felt if she's gonna go there then maybe it's gonna be easier. In the meantime they took her and I came home from my work then I looked for her and I found on the floor the pile of her clothes and this was a pair of pants and like in a little blouse. And they left the clothes and I knew when they left her clothes because they didn't divide any clothes for nobody you had to hold on to the few pieces of clothes what you had. Then I knew she was sended to the crematorium instead of sending her to a workshop. I cried and cried for days and weeks and I couldn't bare my life because this was my older sister and when I left my parents I substitute my sister for my parents because she was all my life to hold onto her and this was gone it was nothing more to live anymore. Later on I start looking at my younger sister I felt now I have to take care of her--if I lose her then its, then I have nobody anymore in the world. I just remembered it was a time when uh, they said it's left a little bit of soup then uh, who wants to, to have it then has to come out with the dish. Then I said to my sister she was a little bit like weak and she was very, she was uh, she was afraid to, to, to do anything she was sitting inside in her, in her cabin like. And I ran out to grab some soup. Then the Oberscharführer saw me grabbing the soup then she took a piece of wood and gave me right over my head and the wood was like sharp from the sides and she split my head and was flushing the, the, the blood over my body. And then I came in and I throw the soup to my sister and I was all piled up with blood. She cried very bitter and she start to wash me up from the blood and I couldn't say anything because they would take me away to the crematorium. I had to pretend that I am okay and I'm ready to go to work again in the morning I have to be on the Appell early. And this was days and days after my life this was days and days what my life was to it.

Can you tell me about an Appell?

SF: One morning when I was standing on the Appell it was very early like, very early in the morning that I had um, a, on a little uh, chain at to my chest the slice of bread from the day before. Then I felt like the slice of bread sliding through my body then like I'm losing the piece of bread. Then I tried to bend down to pick it up. Then we had an Oberscharführer she was uh, from Czechoslovakia. She was just five feet tall but bitter. It's unbelievable no human--she had, she, she was the worst human being whatever could exist in the world. Then she gave me two, three kicks in my left side then I fell on the floor. And when I fell on the floor I couldn't stand up anymore then she said to other girls that they should uh, um, drag me in to the, to the, to the barracks where I,--my place was then they dragged me by my hand and the head, drag me in, and she broke a few rib of mines and I had to lay but three days stiff--I couldn't move. She didn't allow me to give me any bread and any my portion of soup what I deserved because I, I was so um, evil to, to, to bend down for a second. And uh, after three, four days I was still young somehow, somewhere I don't know I don't remember how I recover and I had to try to stand up to be able to uh, to go to work because everybody said that in, in every few days the Oberscharführer looked over who was left on the floor then the, the people what they didn't feel good then he took them right away to the crematorium with his big lies then he takes them to work. Then I try to go to work again and this is the way I was there in, in, in a working spot. But again I remember one evening I was in the washroom washing myself. This was middle of the night because during the evening you had to stay in line for two hours till you get the spot to go to wash yourself. And they looked you over every day if God forbid there were in the, in the, camps lice I mean you got the lice then right away they took you away. And we were afraid very much for the lice then you had to wash yourself. And if you didn't have the water--I used to stay two hours in line to get washed. Many times then they gave me a cup of coffee for the day then I took a piece of rag and I wash myself with the coffee because I was afraid for getting those lice in, in my hair. But one evening I was--it was there midnight I was in the washroom getting out from my sleep and I said I'm gonna wash myself. And when I wash myself I overheard next to the window then was a few Oberscharführers with a Kapo with everybody talking then they want to take out the nice girls while they're still healthy and they still look alive and, and good then they should take them out and send them to a working place. And uh, then I felt maybe in the working place what's gonna be and there suppose to be like making ammunition. And when they took us...

NF: [whispering]

SF: Then they, they said they gonna send us to a place to work and uh, then uh, then when I came back from the washroom then I whispered to my sister then I said in the morning they are gonna segregate us to go to work and I am gonna try and push myself.

[interruption in interview] I want to go to work and I felt I'm gonna push myself to the front lines then I can be chosen from the fifty girls to go to this factory. My sister di... didn't believe then what was happening but I, I grabbed her and she saw I'm leaving and she went with me then they took us to Drażeń to a working factory where they make ammunition for, for the war. And quite a few floors of people was already working there and when we came there the situation was a little bit different like being in concentration camp was a building and we went in the morning to work they fed us better we had a little bit more food. And they gave me like a separate uh, bed to sleep...

NF: Bunk bed.

SF: Like a bunker.

NF: Bunk bed.

SF: Uh, bunk bed is, is like from wood and with a little blanket covered. Then I felt I already have a better life it's already improvement for me. And I met over there girls some of them what they were chosen to and we were very close being together, living together. One day uh, one day then uh, came out like, one day a man app... uh, approached me and he asked me whether I wanna work for his wife in uh, in the factory. And this was the man he was the leader from the factory then uh, I said yes and I was willing to do it. So then I worked there and, and uh, then the, the husband and the wife talked to each other. Then some new people came from concentration camp like midnight and they ran away from the, from the concentration what they were uh, by the chamber. And I tried to surv... uh, to save their lives. And I, I went to them and I told them then they should know or they can run away or something because they feel then those people doesn't belong there they're gonna take them back to the crematoriums and they were gonna burn them. So then the uh, uh, his wife said to him then uh, probably this came out from me then they tried to beat me up so hard and they said they gonna send me back then I cried and cried and I kissed her hands and falled to her and begged her and I said, "I lost everybody, please just don't do it." And finally they forgive me and they put me on the floor again to work with ammunition. So we worked there for a long time and...

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