Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982

Sanitary Conditions

You, we, you talked earlier about the sanitary conditions. What were they like at Auschwitz?

In Auschwitz uh, we uh, we, the same condition. They had latrines. There was no problem, no problem to uh, they were better than in the ghetto, because the ghetto was just a temporary, sudden thing. All of a sudden you bring in 30,000 Jews with no preparations. We had the sanitary conditions. Uh, we had to wash, we could wash ourselves. Um, I don't recall having any soap and, and um, I think if we had any towels I don't even remember that. But we had lice already in Auschwitz and they were other poor. I think uh, uh, I just, I just uh, remember that a lot of people had lice and we had lice. We had to keep our, keep ourself clean. You had to go to the uh, washroom to wash yourself in some cold water at, at a certain time in the morning. But basically I don't recall anyone uh, I just don't remember anyone complaining about it. I mean, we survived okay. I, I just don't recall to much.

Was there disease in the camp?

Uh, no, I don't recall any, any disease. Uh, there, there was people who just succumbed uh, from hunger or psychologically uh, they just couldn't take it any longer and they were taken out from the barracks and, and, and uh, they, they gassed them. But as far as the people that I was with in my barrack, were mostly people like I was; younger people, stronger people who uh, uh, there was no special uh, kind of a health problem as far as I can remember.

No dysentery, typhus or...

Not, not in the first four weeks, no, no.

How long were you at Auschwitz?

Four weeks.

And then what happened?

Then they um, took us uh, there was a request for uh, a transfer to go. They, they said they needed a thousand people or fifteen hundred people, I don't recall and I just stood in line. I figured by that time, we, we had the feeling that it's good to get out of Auschwitz. And, and uh, I just, we decided to stand in line and to, to get out of there.

And this would have been around May?

Around--no, we arrived to Auschwitz uh, let me see now. We left, April we were picked up. In May--in June. In June um, I was in Auschwitz for a week. I believe that, I believe that I left Auschwitz around the end of June or the beginning of July. Uh, they took us out, gave us a loaf of bread. No. No, no. They gave us the bread at the, the train station. They marched in about a thousand or fifteen hundred people to the train. They said, "You are going to a labor camp," and we were all relieved to get out of Auschwitz. Uh, before we boarded the train they gave us a loaf of bread and uh, a piece of margarine and uh, they put us into the train. It was not as congested as it was, as coming to Auschwitz.

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