Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Kent - August 7, 1984

Life in Auschwitz

Do you know who that was?

That doctor? That was Doctor Mengele. Doctor Mengele, if I'm pronouncing it right. Yeah. He was the doctor. And we were just deprived totally in this camp of um, privacy. We were never alone for one moment. When we had these--we had to go to the bathhouse, we were together. There wasn't--privacy uh, is a most uh, uh, important things to a human being. We never had any privacy. We were deprived totally of privacy. And um, then I was in many different camps, but...

Let me interrupt just for a minute, before we leave Auschwitz. At what point did you find out what had happened to your mother and your little brother?

No. No, I had no idea. No news of my mother, no news of my brothers. No. I, I was just with fortunate that I still had my sister with me. And she was like a mother to me. No, I had no knowledge of what had happened to them at all, why we were in Auschwitz.

Did you hear about the crematorium?

I did not hear about the uh, I did see this furnace blasting away and uh, you could smell like the burning of bodies but at the time I really didn't know where the smell came from. I did not know that they were burning people; there were crematoriums in Auschwitz.

You were in Auschwitz then for four weeks?

About four or five weeks I was in Auschwitz.

What did you do there?

Our day was mostly spent in the barracks and uh, mostly taking that one dress and delousing it. Killing all the uh, lice on my dress. I was not working in any way. And we had these Appells, roll calls like twice a day.

How long would they last?

Oh, for hours where just they kept us. Standing there whether it was raining or whatever the weather was and I can't understand why they counted us every, twice a day they would have to account for us. We're like animals standing in a line five and the only heat we really had was from our bodies, so we used to cuddle up and, and get warm from our own bodies. It was just a humiliating experience. They did everything to hum...humiliate us. And there were no mirrors. I couldn't see how I looked but I imagine I must have looked like an animal. Without my hair. There were no mirrors, no anything to look at.

What, what kind of food did you have there?

In Auschwitz, we had a little some soup and uh, I don't remember if we got bread every other day or every day a little piece. And when we did get uh, get the bread we had to hang on to it for dear life because there were many people uh, just stealing anything they could, they would steal from you. So, I was so glad I had the older sister, she could sort of look after me and she would give me her bread if, if she could and I would always try and give her my bread. We would just share things. You had to have a body with you in order to survive. There were people that were coming from different parts of Europe and we don't know who they were but there were some very, very wild people. They were thrown together. So, it was good to have someone that you had like a friend or a relative with you. So, I was very fortunate to have my um, sister there.

Were you ever beaten or punished outside that first day when you were...

No, I tried to avoid these uh, German, the Nazis, and I also, they were in charge of our camp and uh, I tried to avoid, I tried to follow the crowd, I would never want to stand out uh, in any way. This was my experience the first day when I got there and I learned my lesson early. So, I was not uh, going to be exposed to any of this. I was afraid.

How were you chosen to leave Auschwitz?

Uh, they came in again to one of these selection processes. Again, you were--the only thing, garment I had was my dress, I had uh, we had to take off that dress and again they looked us over again. If we're healthy enough they were going to send us to work, presumable they were, we were supposed to go to work. And so uh, I was so glad that they would pick my sister and I because what we had here, we're glad to leave. We didn't know where we were going but we're so glad to leave this particular area because we could see uh, everyday when we went out to be counted for, we would see bodies. Dead bodies. Uh, parts of bodies. And uh, um, they had these um, pushcarts and they had bodies stacked on these pushcarts everyday up to the hill. And we would also see um, a lot of people just uh, expiring uh, wherever we could--our eyes would take us. There were a lot of people and Jewish people, the inmates of this camp in Auschwitz, picked up the bodies and put them in these push carts and they were taking them somewhere, I don't know where, because I don't remember seeing a grave or anything. So, the life in Auschwitz was so unbearable. And so we were so glad to leave. We didn't know where we were going but uh, at least we're leaving this particular place. And uh, I went through many camps and then we were sent to uh, Stutthof.

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