Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tola Gilbert - July 25, 1983

Ober Alstadt

Um, in Ober Altstadt uh, you worked in a fabric factory...

Yeah, yeah.

...you told me. Do you recall the name of the factory?

Yeah, Kluger. Hilma Kluger, Kluger Company.

And were you living in barracks there?

In barracks yes, certainly, in barracks.

And you said...

Straw sacks and the straw was getting flatter and flatter.

[interruption in interview]

What did I talk about?

The sickness in the camp.

Yeah, I was once hit. I was sick one day; I was hit by a needle from the machine. And I had a wound on my head from it. I think I'm touching it right now. [shows scar]I thought accidentally I touched it, I think. Uh, and I was bleeding terribly. And I was running through the halls, you know, uh, to get some water. And the--how shall I call it? The boss came after me with a piece of fabric and he says to me, uh, "A little Jewish blood won't do you any harm--to lose a little Jewish blood is no harm." I don't know I answered him something--I was--I didn't--I mean, I didn't think. I said something. But he didn't do anything to me. And I was in the sick home. And I was on the upper bed and on the bottom a girl was dying. And she--I, I heard her, "Brrr," she was cold, you know, she was uh, shivering. And I went down and I covered her up and the next morning they found her dead. And I remember I said, "That's enough, I'm going to work." And I went to work without reporting to the uh, nurse that I'm going to work. They were looking all over for me. They wanted to punish me for that, but I said, "I'm not going to stay in that Krankenzimmer if they pay me. No matter how sick I am, I am going to work. I'd rather went to work than stay there." Then we had another plague we had furuncles. This was big furuncle under the arms. They were like balloons full of pus and these girls were suffered, were suffered, so I know a friend of mine she had this. And her--how shall I say? I always forget, meister, her foreman used to say, "Kilo muß ich haben," I have to have the amount of kilos; that daily. She worked with other operation. And with this--with these bumps under her arm she had to produce. So I remember there was one girl she constantly had them. So she talked herself into--when I hold her--when the nurse opens them for her and let the pus out, squeeze the pus out, she feels good. And would you believe it that, that Gutka was her name? I'll never forget it, Gutka would say, "Tola, please come with me.??? the nurse was going to open my boils," and I had to hold her. And without anesthetic, without anything. I remember she used to put a kidney-shaped pan underneath and the pus--oh God, I don't know if I could do it today.

Was there any doctor there at all?

There was a doctor who used to come once in a while. He wasn't even at that time I don't think so that he was a doctor. It was full of light--a very lovely, very wonderful person, I really do like him. Uh, he lives somewhere uh, near New York, somewhere there. Uh, he would come once in a great while. As a matter of fact uh, when we still were in the working camp. Not in--before it became a concentration camp, I remember that uh, when I was in the other camp, my sister suffered with her stomach. They didn't know at that time what was wrong with her. As it saw, that doctor got her into a hospital into a big city there in Trautenau, to a hospital. Uh, at that time uh, since she was throwing up and she was dizzy they told her that something's wrong with her stomach uh, which right now plenty's wrong with her stomach. It's--it comes from that. But my sister developed, which was later named by a Doctor Ménière, the Ménière's disease. Uh, and she had it already. She got it right there. At that time they didn't know what it was. But when she came to this country years, years later uh, they, they said that she has the Ménière's disease.

What kind of...

But this was before the concentration camp.

When did it become a concentration camp?

Uh, about uh, I left in August 1942 and about eight months later it became a concentration camp.

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