Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Charlotte Firestone - March 11, 1982

Arrival at Birkenau

You still had your clothes and things.

No. I don't have nothing. And they put us on--in a block and there was sixteen different and I think they called it koja. There was sixteen people on a koja. It was a lot of koja here and there. It was a big block. Came--it was nothing, just, you know, put together from wood, you know and we were there, it--when we went to lie down, if one of us wanted to turn, the whole, all, all the sixteen had to turn, because people like herring put together. All sixteen had to turn and if we couldn't sleep and you know, you couldn't just lie for I don't know how long on one place, there was fights. One was finally asleep, they had to turn, because, like one was sleeping in the other one, you know, like--but the room for sleeping--give the other one, you know.

Like sardines.

Like sardines, Really. And I remember on that koja where I was, that rich woman, Fischer-Sandor was her name, she couldn't imagine. We're like animals, like animals. She was talking, talking. The next morning, she saw friends, who they used to be friends from Slovakia and she got up, got dressed and then down, but she wasn't sure--in the nighttime, they were only eight in a koja. They were Stubälteste and Blockälteste. They were only eight in a koja. Four and four, while we were eight, we were sixteen and they were just only eight and they--she was looking and she wasn't sure that, that one of the girls was really the one she knew. They were very friendly and then they came home at nighttime. She called her by name and she answered and they called it over to her koja It was, you know, like a big place, but it was separated, you know, just with a piece of wood. Separated. She called it over. She would come in her block and they were talking. We didn't know what, you know, very low. Then the next morning, I was lying next to her and somehow, she took a liking to me. I was crying all the time and she felt sorry for me and she said--yeah--in the morning--they chased us out to Appell and then when they came back and I was crying always about the children, the children and she said to me, yeah and I said, "Those are Jewish children. They are so rough. They are so mean." And, and you know, they had to, have to stay Appell in the line and just let the--and we were, you know, hardly sleeping and you didn't feel like standing and the first morning, we didn't know what goes on and when we came back, I says, "How mean are they? There are Jewish people--how they..." And that Fischer-Sandor, that woman, that--told me, "Now I'm going to tell you something. That girl, we were very good friends with her parents. They brought us--I don't remember what year--from Slovakia here. Their mother went out to work and she got very sick and she got sunburned and she got very sick and she was cry...daughter always chased her out--she should stay in Appell and she should go to the--they should--you know, she dragged her always to..."

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn