Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tola Gilbert - July 25, 1983

Living Conditions in Camp

You, you left Ober Altstadt in 19...uh, 1942?

No, I left--I, I went first--I was going to Ober Altstadt but they put me to Parsnitz. P-a-r-s-n-i-t-z, it would be.

Okay, and you were at Parsnitz how long?

Seven months.

And what were you doing there, what type of work?

The same. Well, actually not, but what does it make a difference. In that camp I was--in the first camp I was making the fabrics and that's where the needle hit me...


...from the machine. How do you call a factory like this?

Uh, textile?

Textile, that's right. Textile. And then I was working with the thread in the other.

I see, okay, okay.

Which was going for the same purpose.

Right, right. So you got to Ober Altstadt in August of 1942?

Uh, no. Parsnitz. See, I, I was going to go there, remember, I volunteered.

And then you wound up in Ober Altstadt...


...when, when was that?

In Ober Altstadt? About seven months later.


To exactly seven months exactly later.

And then that became a concentration camp, Ober Altstadt.

Yeah. All the camps there...


...in Sudetenland. All the camps for that matter became at that time. They took away the inspectors and they put in uh Oberscharführers, Unterscharführers; German who were over the camp. Beside the, the, the commander that we had the, the Lagerführerin und the SS uh, we have Oberscharführers, Unterscharführers; a bigger rank yet.

Can you tell me something about the food you had there, the living conditions after the uh, after it became a camp, a concentration camp?

The conditions, the living conditions were the same. We had, the worst part was that the worms were eating us up. Do you believe that we had in the soup worms? We would get a soup and a worm would swim around it. It was terrible uh, how do you call it? I don't know how you call them in English. Those little things that were eating you up alive. They were in bed...


Not--lice, too. In the other camp it was better already because we had separate rooms and we tried so hard to keep them. You know, we used to take the beds apart--the bunk beds apart and pour hot water over it so it would kill the, the, the--those worms. But under the circumstances--like mice would walk around during the day. We used to say, because we had some French people working in the factory, from France too, which I don't know if I mentioned. So we used to call it la promenade, la promenade, you know. The, the, the mice would just--my sister every night she would pick up her straw sack and she would want to turn it over because a whole day we would--not a whole day, but whenever we would sit there--this was a sitting place too, beside a sleeping place. We didn't have chairs. Uh, we had one was a lot and a table. We had one chair, this was it. So uh, every night she would turn the, the straw and a mouse would run out. We were sick of the mice and the worms and the, the fleas. It was terrible. And no matter how clean, you know, we would come from a night shift, from a afternoon shift--you would come--we were working twelve hours a day. Beside the work that we did in the barracks, like loading coal, loading uh, potatoes uh, sugar beets or any kind of beets uh, cleaning, washing, scrubbing floors, helping in the kitchen. Uh, so we would be working uh, twelve hours a day and uh, you would come home and you'd want to wash up after work. Imagine summer times like we had the heats, like we had the heating spells like we had the last couple weeks. We had this there too and you working in a factory without air conditioning, so we were sweated and dirty and we would come to camp and summer and winter you had ice cold water. This was it. So there was like a barrack and one small pipe would go through the whole length of it and the water would spray out of that and this was the water from the Alpa, from the river. So I don't have to tell you how cold that water must have been winter time and that's how we used to wash ourselves. And regardless if it was cold or not cold that we didn't get pneumonia standing on the cement there.

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