Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tola Gilbert - July 25, 1983

Living Conditions in Camp II

Uh, later on we got to manage a little, like I uh, I happened to be the lucky one. My floor was damp. You--do you know what damp is? Damp is uh, from the pipe heat would come out, hot air, and would warm the water in the pail. Do you understand? So I would take a pail of water if I was lucky because I had an afternoon shift, which was from two, afternoon 'til two in the morning. Eleven o'clock the German woman would go home. Every German worked a certain amount of hours, not like we. We used to work twelve hours through, straight through. But the German people, by eleven o'clock at night they would leave the factory. And the SS was sleepy at that time and nobody would come to check us. So she went into a little uh, enclosure and take a nap. So every time that she would take a nap we would run with the water. You know, one would watch the other's machine and we would get that hot water and go in to where we had our coats and we would wash ourselves in that pail of water, you know. So at least we had hot water, you know. And for a short time we tried to, like I tried to take my sister, not the little one but the younger from me uh, she was always sick, like I told you. So at that time she had hemorrhoids. So I would try to take pail of hot water to camp. And as long as the SS didn't notice it, we were going in a line, everything was fine. But once she noticed, goodbye hot water. So, so my sister had to wash in ice cold water and my, my, my baby sister too. And uh, we tried as much as we could to keep clean, but in a small room, the room was as big as my kitchen. Okay, thirty-one girls. So tell me, how clean could it be? Then we had a, a, a little lockers like, which we would have to share. Uh, like the three of us had one locker, which was fine, we were sisters. This was wonderful, because I can tell you that girls sometimes could not control their hunger and were stealing. I don't have to tell you this, I tell you in all humbleness that it was done. And as bad as I feel, I have a friend, I, I hope she never will know that I knew about it that she was doing it. And they caught her, they were very angry because everybody was hungry. But some girls just couldn't control their hunger. And yet on the other hand, we would help each other. Believe me uh, I suffered plenty because I had two younger sisters and uh, my sisters like mein, mein Rosa, my sister, the youngest one, she didn't see the, the Judenältester like I noticed it previously, I told you, we had a very good element of girls there. And this was my luck, our luck. Uh, like the Judenältester would not take a certain work...she would not take the children--the seven children. In camp they had no work. They were relieved, in camp. In the factory they were working just like anybody else. But at least this was their privilege, you understand. So my sister would never go to load the potatoes. My other sister was too sick. So she was also relieved by the others in camp from this kind of work. But I felt obligated, you understand. So even in the room I used to do more often the cleaning than maybe other girls. I felt that I should. Nobody told me, believe me. And uh, they were really wonderful girls, wonderful girls, each one of them. I know there was a girl who was very young, she was about fourteen years old. Tall, very tall, very skinny, very hungry, very dirty uh, full of boils. She had again another kind of boils uh, ??? it was called. It used to--I'm sure she's covered with black spots from it because my husband had them also in camp and he has black spots on his leg uh, on his legs. Uh, so another girl who was helping in the kitchen had a little more food. This was beside that she's working in the factory, the one with the boils that I told you. Uh, and uh, she gave away her bread portion to make stockings for Gisella. Gisella didn't have stockings, Gisella had the boils, Gisella was a young girl. Gisella had a big mouth on top it because she was a little, she was a little crazy. And that girl was taking care of her. And I remember, it's funny and it's tragic that every time Gisella got angry at Rosa she would say, "I'm not putting on the stockings, you can have them back." And that girl was a little rough, that other girl, and she would say, "You just try not to put on the stocking and I tear you apart!"

Yeah. What were the toilet facilities like?

They were outside. And we had to clean it. And uh, there were very few for thirty--in this camp we were over one thousand. In another camp was another thousand. And for a thousand girls this was much, much, much too little.

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