Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Kalmas - May 25, 1982

Tricks of Survival in Camp

I was working in Buna with the, with the IG uh, Farben industry. And as a roofer, after the bombardment--they bombarded the kitchen that supplied, you know, lunches for the, for the entire plant. So we had to go repair the roof. So we left a hole in that roof and we took our time to fix it. We got potatoes and salami and meat out of that roof--out of the warehouse there. So there's a lighter side to the story, right. So one night we have to go back. I--like I said, it's on the lighter side of the story. So, so I had a pail, a pail filled up with potatoes. You cannot take it to the camp, so we left it on the roof, you know, hidden--covered up with something. The next building which was two or three stories higher, another uh, refugee or, or uh, prisoner, you know, saw what I'm doing or what we are doing. And we took off, we went away. They came down and took the pail. I found out later that, that afterwards, that the same guy--we were good friends in, in, in displaced person camp in, in Stuttgart. He said, "You know, I did it," he said. He said, "I did it." See, we uh, we had opportunity, when we had potatoes for example. As a roofer, we made fire to warm up the tar in big drums, you know. That's how I heated it up, you know, in order to be able to spread it on the roof. So we had another drum with water in it. We made another fire, we boiled the potatoes. Trick of survival. You don't have to be a genius, but it is good. It's a good experience if you should ever get lost in an isl...on an island somewheres how to survive--how to heal yourself when you get cut. You have no Band-Aid or, or things that you wouldn't think of. You were thinking you went through medical school in order to take care of it, but you did.

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