Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Karp - June 22, 1983

Stealing in Camp

How long did you stay in the camp in the um, area outside of Stuttgart?

'Til uh, I think it was in--either March or April.

And you continued to work then?

Oh, yes. We, we continued in a disorganized--as months went by, you know, it became a little bit more disorganized. There were groups taken away. Some other groups brought, you know. But quite frankly we were always asking what is what--the curiosity was there but the biggest concern what each and every person had there was to sustain himself. And that was food: how to get food, what to do to get food. In one particular instance what I probably will never forget--when we were waiting for the elevator to go down in the shaft. Now, we assembled and at times when the other shift may have been late coming up, and we were a little bit later going down, of course. And that was a nice area to be in, because in winter time, they had a--like a boiler--a large boiler--and on top of it you know, it was warm. You could go there and you could sleep for a half hour, for forty-five minutes. That was uh, like being in heaven. So one time the doors were open and way behind, I would say maybe two hundred yards away, at the end of the yard there was a huge orchard. Apples, pears--whatever it was, you know. And I snuck out. I went up on the tree and I was picking apples. What we usually did when we were going on the road or whether we were able to get something like that, we tied our slacks, and we filled up our slacks. And when I was up on the, on the tree the air raid sirens go on. And when that goes on, immediately what they do is they lock the doors. No one in, no one out, of course. When I heard the first siren going on, I don't know how I didn't get caught. I just jumped--all the way down. I may have been cut in a, in a branch and tear myself apart but I didn't. And I was running back, and as I was running both, both ties came loose and I was losing everything. When I got to the door it was just enough room for me to squeeze in. My uncle was there. He was very much concerned because if they caught you on the outside when there is an air raid siren they don't ask questions. You are an escapee and they shoot you immediately. I mean, that was a known fact. Thank God I was able to squeeze myself in. And the guard told me--he says, "You know, for this you could have capital punishment." So I apologized. I said, "Look, you know that I didn't want to escape. I came back. Besides I didn't want to wake you because you were sleeping. You probably are tired." I said, "I'm sorry what I did." He was from Transylvania but he's part Hungary, part Romania. So he didn't say anything because he's not supposed to sleep on the job either. So I got away with that. But at that point--at that time I think that uh, I was reborn because if they could have found me outside then they shoot me on the spot.

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