Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Karp - September 14, 1995

Executions in Kochedorf

Were there any other scenes of murder or execution that you remember from Kochendorf?

Uh, yeah, there was, uh, one hanging that I had witnessed. There were--these were actually Russians, because in this camp, there were several or some non-Jews too and these were a couple of Russians. They may have been Partisans. They escaped from this camp. They were caught and they were brought back and there was a public execution. Both, both people were hung and I didn't understand the language what they were saying but there were some Russian speaking prisoners there and they said, the only thing what they said, his last words was, "Long live Motherland." I mean it was a very awful sight to see. Um, it was a makeshift hanging, uh, apparatus. They put the rope in his neck, and he was standing on a, uh, uh, wooden crate. They knocked the crate off and the way, this is the only time and previous to that I haven't seen it, and I haven't seen after that. But, you know, it's, it's such an awkward scene to see. The body just became, it's, it's lengthened, it's like, like a noodle. And, uh...

The rest of the camp was made to watch the hanging, a public hanging?

Yes, yeah. Well, that was for, uh, the reason they said that don't attempt to escape because this is what's waiting for you.

How did you deal with all of this? You were watching death on a daily basis sounds like.

It's not only, we were, dead bodies, we were burying them. We would take them either by taking them, you know, on a wooden flat with two handles on each one, or there was something like a, um, you rolled it in a, it, it became, we became immuned to it. It's the only thing what, what it was in people's mind to survive. And how do you survive? First not to give up. To try and get as much as possible food and, uh, and try to keep yourself relatively, relatively speaking, sanitary, which ever way you could. It wasn't too easy. But, all these things what it needed to be part of survival, you know, this is what, this is what kept you going. I know what we, what we did for an extra little food. Uh, in the barracks, in Kochendorf, we were very close to 500 people, you know. On three decks, three levels, and of course at night, you couldn't go if you had to go to the bathroom. You couldn't go. There was one area designated and it had these wooden containers. Sometimes they over spilled. The odor was unbelievable, you know. As you can imagine, 500 people. My uncle and myself volunteered. There were several other volunteers too. Probably we were four or six of us in this group. You know, to empty it in the morning, you know, this wooden containers. And the way it was carried, we had a stick and it was put through a handle and we were carrying them one on each side. And it was so full, that if the ground was solid and frozen, it was okay we were careful. But if you stepped to an area what it was a little bit soft or it wasn't solid frozen and you tipped, your whole side was spilled. But we did anything. We resorted to anything and everything in order to get a little bit of extra food. And maybe this is the reason why we survived.

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