Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tola Gilbert - July 25, 1983

Life in Concentration Camp II

Uh, if somebody wouldn't come out, they would uh, punish them; lock them up without food, without anything. The punishment was terrible for any, for anything, even if we didn't do anything. Uh, the circumstances were terrible. We didn't get any coal. Uh, and as the time wore out it was getting worse and worse, less food, less uh, heating, less uh, coal, less uh, clothing, you know. Uh, we somehow managed. We were uh, stealing from the factory sacks for, for different things. Uh, if our German woman was kind enough she would bring you some uh, coloring, you know, to color that because you couldn't wear it in the form that you stole it, altered we would steal because that's what we were working on. Uh, and we would make gloves or stockings or sweaters or hats from uh, uh, that's how we managed. The, one thing I have to say for this camp, the element of the girls was quite good. And we used to do things for each other very much. Uh, I know that I myself used to steal so many things in the factory to help the girls in the camp. It was my friend. Or like uh, uh, mein uh, girlfriend she used to work on a different shift than I and if, if she would get from a Czech because we were working with uh, the Bohemian people there, would give her a piece of bread she wouldn't dare to bring it during the day. But from the night shift I could already because most of the time nobody was at the door when we came in. Uh, one day we were coming back and the same girl was working with me together on the same shift and she was the group leader. And she, she didn't get bigger rations or anything, she had no privileges. But the only thing, when we were coming into the door she always has to, had to report the amount of the girls. And the, the Unterscharführer, which was the top of the camp--the official, top official was standing at the door and she got so flabbergasted seeing him that she forgot to report the amount of the girls she's bringing in. And I was on his side and he thought that I am the group leader and he smacked me really good. I don't have to tell you how she felt. She couldn't uh, apologize enough to me. "I'm so sorry, and I'm so sorry. It's because of me." I said, "Look honey, it happened, you can't help that." That's how our life was. We had, on top of it, you know, there were no news from back home. In the beginning we still used to get--as a matter of fact, when my sister came, the youngest one, to the camp, my mother did not have a chance to pack her clothes because it was in the other uh, ghetto. And she wrote--this was the last letter--that she's sending out Rosa's clothes, which we never got, which means that, and we know that at that time was Judenrein. After the liberation--we were liberated by the Russians and uh, we went through quite hell with the Russians too. They would come--since there was no transportation, we were staying still in the camps. And there were people with us from all over the war. Uh, in the factory were working people, they were working, they were not prisoners, from Belgium, from France, from Holland. There also were prisoners of war from New Zealand and South Africa. Uh, on occasions we would exchange letters with them, which was very dangerous. Uh, they would put a letter in a spool and we would pack back in a spool, and when they came to pick up we just pointed to it and they knew what we meant. And they felt very much with us and if they could they would help us. Uh, I remember that some girls took very sick and at that time we needed some medication, which we didn't have. And uh, we told a Englishman that we had so many sick girls and we have no medication. And he then pretended to be sick and their doctor, whomever they had among themselves, prescribed this medication that we were needing. And that's uh, that's how we got some medication. At the end of the war they didn't get it either. Like they used to get packages from the Red Cross and from home. At the end of the war everything stopped. Then, oh I have to go back because--I'm sorry.

It's okay.

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