Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Karp - September 14, 1995

Work Assignment

Did the guards ask about professions? Did they ask for skilled ...

Well, it wasn't the guards, there was a, um, they had the administrative offices and you could and you had to report what is your background, what is your profession, what is, uh, what is your trade, you know. And once you did that, then they were compiling certain number of people for transports to ship them out somewhere else.

And what did you say your profession was?

Uh, we reported in as, uh, Metallschleifer, what is something like tool and die making. Cause we felt that maybe with the war effort being uh, that perhaps, not even with the war effort, but we felt perhaps they may spare your life because they need tool and die makers or in that line there may be some shortage. So, you may have a little bit of extra chance. That, instead of throwing you in the crematorium, they may use you to work.

Did you or your uncle have any experience as tool and die makers?


Did it work?

Yes, it did work in a sense, that we.. um, at first, we got into a group of 500 people was selected. And there were various different trades people in that. There were tool and die makers. There were carpenters. There were shoemakers. There were all kinds of people in it. And we were transported in France to a little town close by Thiel Willerupt by Longue, not far from the Luxembourg border.

You were transported on a train again?

On a train.

Boxcars again?

Yes, yeah.

Was the trip the same as the one there?

No, it was different because these cattle, these cars were open cars now. It was totally open. And I don't exactly remember how long it took, uh, because this is by Stuttgart I remember we went through by Karlsruhe and we went further west. I believe that was west towards the Luxembourg border. And we were, and we were, we came into Willerupt that was where the train station was.

This is in France?

France. And all of us, all 500 people were taken to an area where there was no barracks whatsoever. But the material was there. And we were the one, you know, from these 500 people who really erected the barracks. It was like pre-fab. It didn't take long and for a, a couple of, uh, couple of nights we slept outside. Because there was no covered area. But it was still early part of, uh, fall, late summer. So, it wasn't too, too cold. After a few days, when the barracks were erected, each one of us was assigned over there and, uh, many people were selected to do various different work. Remember that my uncle and myself, both of us, we volunteered to go to the railway station and to unload cars, load and unload cars, freight or whatever it was coming in. For, uh, two reasons, because some of the people were selected to go and work in a mine. And, uh, we didn't want to be underground so we were able to get into these work force, what it was roughly about ten or fifteen people. Every morning we were transported to the station and back. It was, it was relatively good, acceptable, because during those days we could get a little bit of extra food and still we had some of the strength what we, what we came in with because it was still only about four months away, and we weren't run down totally, you know. The invasion already took place.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn