Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Charlotte Firestone - March 11, 1982


The daughter directed the mother?

Yeah. Dragged the mother. She had to go, because if she wouldn't gone, she would--they would take her to um, to the gas chamber, so they--she dragged her and she dragged her out and she so sick already and her daugh--mother always begged her, "Take me already to the gas chamber. I can't take it anymore. Take me." And she didn't want to and then was a point already that she saw the mother couldn't, you know, she couldn't function anymore and she couldn't, you know, she couldn't even drag her anymore, so she herself took her to the gas chamber, so she said to them, "What do expect from us? You had it good for I don't know how many years, but I took my own mother to the gas chamber. Can you imagine how I feel. If I'm going to live it through, that's going to stay with me for the rest of my life. I killed my mother and I am sorry, since that time, I should have let the SS take her instead of me, but I didn't want the SS to come in, because there was a lot weak women already, who dragged themselves out, who were friends of mine that I was friends, even here in the lager with them. They would have take them, their mother, too, already, because, if they would have come in and take her, they would have looked over all the people and they would have dragged them, too. So, I was the one who take--took my mother. So you expect me to be good to you while you had it good while we had it so rough here?" You understand? So, that was that.

This woman was a, a Blockälteste?

That was, either a Blockälteste or a Stubälteste, one of the two. I never, you know, I just saw the coming and going, that's all. So we were there. I remember they brought, Yeah--I had a sister-in-law, my husband's brother, was married, he was working in Humenné and he was married there, a very wealthy to do girl from Humenné. He name was Rhea Hans. You could have hear after the war of Rhea Hans. She was a mean person. She was a, a Kapo.

Did she survive?

She survived. She went there with her sister and she never brought back her sister. Anyway, when I arrived, I knew that I saw the Slovak people already, so I asked, "Do you know somebody by the name of Rhea Hans?" Is Rhea here? Rhea Hans and I was asking Rhea Hans. I take it to her maybe, yeah, then we came to S...Slovakia and they led us to Kaschau they opened up the, the, the truck. The men said, "the young people are going to go to work and the older one are going to be with the children" and we going to be able to go to see the children and that's why I was so anxious to pick those things up from the train, so I wanted to--I asked them, "Where are the children? Where are the children?" They didn't answer me. And you know, we were smelling--and smoke was going, you could see from far away, smoke, you know. It, it was, you know, like, like black smoke coming and the, and the sm...smell was just horrible and I was asking for Rhea Hans, Rhea Hans. Sure, sure enough, about two, three days, Rhea Hans arrived at nighttime, and the Stubälteste came and she called me and I when down and there was--the person was sitting on the koja all the time and she--I came down and I saw her and I said, "Rhea, can you tell me where are the children and the older people?" She said, "Are you stupid? How dumb can you be? Don't you sm...smell the smo...don't you see the smoke? Don't you smell the bones and the flesh? Don't you smell it?" You know and I will never forget that. I start crying and she--and I sat down and she grabbed me here and she shook me and she said, "You have--you should have one thing in mind. You should survive. Just you should survive. Work and you're survival. Nobody else." That's when I knew already what goes on, you know. She really gave it to me, plain and simple. I remember she brought me a toothbrush and she brought me a small piece of soap. She said, "You make sure you wash yourself. Try to clean yourself as much as you can. Nobody's important. You are the only--you for yourself are important." And in that time, she must have done something and she was in the stripe and then, stripe Kommando. That was, that was our Kommando. I saw her once pushing her back in, that's how--because most of the time, they were inside in the koja. We didn't go out. But once they took us out and we were chopping stone, you know, big stones and we were chopping it to make small stones out of it and I saw her pushing a bag and small stones, but I couldn't go out, because the SS is--was watching us, so I just saw her and that was it. And uh, we were on that koja and we had to stay Appell morning and nighttime. My sister was so sick there. She had typhus. She was constantly in the toilet and when we were standing Appell, she was never there on time. They came in to the, to the washroom and they chased us out. She was still sitting on the toilet. She couldn't move from there. She had diarrhea. I'm telling you something awful and she wa...and I was out already. Finally, when she came out, they were counting. She was missing. Then she was--she came. No, she was--they were missing a few people and then they went in the washroom to look for her and they chased her out and then she came. I remember the Stubälteste, they gave her a licking and she gave it back. A licking for the block--for the Stub...When I saw that, I thought they take her and I knew already what goes on, that I should obey and I should--you know, I had already the instruction from Rhea, from my sister-in-law. I was sure they were going to take her to the gas chamber and I jumped out. I start to beg that, "She's sick. Please. She's not going to do it anymore. Please don't take her away and don't--" and I was crying. I saw already taking her into the gas chamber, you know, from--maybe I wouldn't worry if wouldn't have my sister-in-law to give me those instructions, what went on, what happened. So um, but she didn't do nothing. She didn't do nothing. So we were there a few weeks and then, they--I don't remember if they got the numbers there before they took us to Stutthof or at Stutthof they gave us the number. I can't recall. You know, they were writing down the numbers on the dress what we had on. We had a dress and, and there was a white piece of material and the--on that it was wrote down big numbers. I remember the number today. I had a number here and my sister was far away. She had a much, I think a bigger number than I had. So then they took--we were there three or four weeks and uh, and we were in the A Lager in Birkenau and C--that was C Lager, block A. We were standing up in the morning and in the nighttime and then they were pushed back and they brought us to eat--they brought it in a big pot. One, they gave it for the first one. She hardly took it to her mouth and we were already--"Give it to me, that's enough." It was like a fight over that, but then it was full of sand.

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