Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Kalmas - May 25, 1982

Life at Buchenwald

No roof on those?

No, open box cars. Finally about five days later or so, a little bit more room became available because people died and they took 'em out and put 'em on another open car--all dead, you know, piled up. So we had a little bit more room to sit down already. And in a way I'll say that we were lucky. It was snowing. Heavy snow. So you ate snow from somebody else's shoulder. Until we finally got to Buchenwald. Buchenwald then uh, they start shipping us around all over the places, you know, they had camps all over Germany. And I said to my friends that we were together, you know, in uh, in the previous camp. Like I said I had the command of I believe four, four or five--two Hungarians, two Polish boys. And those two Polish boys were hang...hanging on to me and we became friends. And they were hanging on to me and when we came into Buchenwald, I said to them, "We don't leave from here. Here we're going to stay. We don't go to any other camp. Are you with me?" Say, "Yep." Because the bombardments over Germany was quite heavy already. Buchenwald is on a hill. You could look down there on air force--you could see the bombardments--the planes, you know. I say it's only thirty miles from down there. So everyday that we ship 'em out--we were sixty thousand in that camp when we came in. Ten days later they were shipping out six thousand people a day. You know, it's just like if the cow doesn't want to go into the slaughter house, you take a little hay and you, you know, tease 'em into the slaughterhouse. The same thing was over there. If you go they will give you a half a loaf of bread or whatever it was there, to be a--I don't know exact what--how much bread they gave you. And if a person is hungry, he will go even if he knows behind that gate, you know, might be death. But he'll go because he's hungry.

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