Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Karp - September 14, 1995

Picking Apples

They were Wehrmacht?

These were Wehrmacht, yeah, yeah, yeah. One particular instance comes to mind, um. We were not far from a beautiful orchard, apple trees and pear trees and all kind of fruit trees. And at one time, I snuck out and, uh, went down to the orchard. I climbed up on a tree and I was picking the fruit. I was filling up my slacks, pants, what I tied by my ankles, I tied it with a string, so I would fill up both my legs with fruit. And all of a sudden, the air raid siren came on. And then when that happens, they immediately close and shut every single door. So, I got scared. I jumped off the tree. I don't know how in the world I didn't get caught by a branch or something. But, I landed on the ground and I started to run back. And, uh, of course, I was concerned that I should get back on time and the string broke and I was losing all the fruit. That was, that was even worst, losing it. But, nevertheless, I kept running and by the time I got to the door, the guard was just about pulling it in. And I just snuck through. And he said, I wasn't suppose to leave the premises to start with. He asked me, "Where did you go?" So, I told him. I says, "Look, I'm sorry, but there is this orchard and I went to pick a few fruit off the ground." I didn't even tell him I picked it off the trees, off the ground. He says, "Well, first of all, you know that what happens if you are being caught during an air raid, during air raid outside of the building." He says, "The order is to be shot immediately, without question, now. Second of all, you are not suppose to leave this premises." So I told him, I said, "Look, I'm sorry, but you were dozing off, I wanted to ask your permission, but I didn't want to wake you." This was the only thing what it came to my mind. Because if he, at that point, if he reports it to his superior, you know, then if I mentioned that he fell asleep, he's in just as much trouble as I am. So, thank God, I was able to get inside and this was a very close call for being, uh, being today alive or being shot to death at that time. These kind of things, uh, happened down in the shaft as we were working. It was very damp. It was not, not so much cold as dampness. And once the dampness gets into your body, you know, it was like a shivering type of situation. The only thing what we found out to, to safeguard against that is by putting hard newspapers or soft card, cardboard, paper, like wrapping paper, and we covered our back, front, because that insulates quite a bit, you know. And, uh, many times if the guards would be gathering together having coffee or lunch, or whatever, would lay down lower bed and take a rest. And, um, and, once I was caught doing that, trying to sleep. I got ten lashes with, I think it was an electric wire, you know. And I remember I put my hand behind my back and I remember once it cut, it cut my palm. It made it pretty bloody. But, uh, these things happened, and, uh, on a daily basis. Sometimes a little bit more severe, sometimes a little bit less. But, uh, it wasn't the ideal situation.

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