Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Kalmas - May 25, 1982

Importance of Tattooed Numbers in Camp

What was it about the number seventy-seven?

That was--that means that's the year when he came. He came in 1942 and he survived because there's only three or four left. Like in that one camp that I was in, sur...survived that I know of is three, four people. In the first--in the coal mine--four people. In the other camp, only one survived from our--from this number. We, we knew by the number where the people are from. Or he is Italian or he is uh, Hungarian or he is German--where he came from. There was no name at that time. You didn't call by name. Only seventy-seven thousand, period. This--it's funny, as a youngster, I had a boyfriend--we went to cheder together. Before the war his family left for Belgium. And he was a youngster--only eight, nine years old. Left for Belgium. Soon forget about it. We were in camp--in Auschwitz on the coal mine there. So every evening you had to be what they call an Appell--they uh, counting. You know, you have to uh, see, you know, if the same amount of people came back as they went out. Somehow the SS commander calls a name, Bruk. "Bruk?" I said, "The name is so familiar. Bruk. Belgium." And we were in the same block--you know what a block is--a barrack--in the same barrack. He slept on one side of uh, in other words uh, uh, three--what they call it? I can't think of the name right now. Not beds, you know, the three...

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