Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Karp - June 22, 1983

Forced Labor in France

How were you taken there?

By train. We went probably the two days or three days by train. And all the 500 people, we were--how, how did we know that we were in France? Well there were some people that spoke French, you know, and they picked up the French language. But we did not have any contact for two or three weeks. It was totally bare land. And we built--with some help from tradesman--we did a camp. It may have been about half a dozen barracks. And I must say, at that point, considering Birkenau, this was heaven. Considering what it was in Birkenau. Of course, we were under all the restrictions--whatever it had to be--whatever it can be--had on a person, but in that camp we have again been put into different groups. One went to the railway station to work, the other one, I think, to the mines, the third one went again doing something else. Uh, I know that I didn't like to work underground and by all means I tried always to be above ground. So for a few days--it may have even been a few weeks--we were lucky to get into the group what was working at the railway station. We were unloading--loading and unloading supplies. And there we were able to get a little bit of extra food from some of the people, and French people who were there. At that point the French were quite nice to us. That didn't lasted too long. Then I got into the group what went to the mines. The mines it was a little bit more difficult already, but it was bearable. It was there too we're able to get a little bit of extra supply a food where we were able to be in contact with the French people or depending on the guard. They were all German guards. Some of them were other nationalities who have been in the German Wehrmacht, but these were not SS guards, these were Wehrmacht guards. Occasionally you may have found a guard who have been from Romania or Czechoslovakia, from Poland or somewhere, who may have had a more better feeling in himself, or compassion. And he let you do a little bit extra what somebody else may have not. Now we were there till uh, approximately the beginning of September and during that time there was only one dead person who died of natural death, out of the 500. It was right next to us there was a group of 300 or so Hungarians. We were not able to communicate with them other than through the fence, just talking to each other. And one escaped from that 300. And they had been put through quite...

[interruption in interview]

...so they went through quite a rigmarole about the person who escaped and quite frankly I don't exactly remember...

[interruption in interview]

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