Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001

Conditions in Gusen II

Th...there's a story um, about Gusen about naked children being forced to clean the latrines. Do you, do you remember that, by any chance?

I tell you, I was not one of them, I was not one of them. I, I'll tell you, I, I worked with cement Kommando. Most people don't understand cement Kommando, I mean, and the guys, they're thirteen years old, something, what can you do. I carried those, I don't know whether it was twenty-five kilo or whatever. Twenty, a, a bags, standard bag of cement. I carried this damn, this darn thing all night or all day. I used to work on the night shift most of the time. I worked on the night shift I would say forty percent of the time I worked night shift, because they kept switching. So I was not the only one. They kept switching us. Uh, so I, whether day or night, I carried that cement on my shoulders, okay. Or I worked shoving, shoveling the cement and wat...putting the cement and water together. It was all physical work. Just want you to know, I came to Detroit, I had a friend, Jerry Stone. And we were close friends for great number of years. He used to take bets, dollar bets that was in the fifties dollar bets from anyone who can Indian wrestle with me. I didn't care was six foot, five foot, six feet. I didn't care how big the guy was, didn't exist. He used to take dollar bets and I just kept uh, uh, taking everyone. It was no problem for me eh, to, to. Eh, there was one time a fellow who was working out, he was part of the ???, I remember so well. He was a genuinely giant. He gave me a problem, but I took him too. So, I, I had a tremendously strong arm, you know. I carried that thing for years.

You said at Gusen--you mentioned...


...the lice.

The lice, what can I tell you. Uh, it, it's something that eh, hard to imagine, hard to understand. It's, people understand lice maybe, they don't understand badbegs, bedbugs, nobody in this country ever, well there are some places for sure, I, I, I'm wrong on that. People don't, don't know what a bed bug is, the little red creature who, who sucks on your, sucks your blood, you know. And, and they were all over on, you couldn't shake 'em off, I mean.

Was there typhus too?

There was typhus. There was, there was ty...there was typhus always. See, when people get typhus this one of the people that, these are some of the people that we found laying outside. When you get typhus, you get diarrhea. You get uh, uh, emanci...what's the word when you get the emanc...uh, emancipated, emancipated? What's the word when you get totally skinny? Emancipated?


No, it's a different word., eh...

Emaciated, emaciated?

Emaciated, that's right. They got totally emaciated and they got put together on that, on that, that p...uh, that crowd of, of, bodies up there and uh, the pile of bodies, and they were removed. So ty..., it was always typhus. Nobody will have to go to a, to a, to a uh, what, what you call, to a hospital, they had a little hospital already, something like that. Nobody dared to go. Whoever had to go never came out, so, uh.

Fred, do you want to stop for tonight?

I want to continue...

Let me ask you a quick question. Do you remember how long you were in Gusen II?

Yes. From about June, maybe late part of June in, of 1944, to eh, to about March of 1945.

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