Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bernard & Emery Klein - May 23, 1984

The Infirmary

You were in the infirmary?

E: Yes, I had the sore throat and uh, I was advised that I should go into the infirmary, and to my amazement and shock they suspected that it was diphtheria and they, they kept me there and I was convinced that this is the end. I mean, having an infectious disease, that's all you need. But because again, a strange reason, experimentation, whatever you want to...they took a, a, what they did a sampling and they had to send in to the nearest town, and in the interim, I was kept in the, in this little hospital and uh, being young and uh, wanting to, to get again exercise of bread, which was the highest reward you could get, I tried to be helpful by sweeping up and so on and, and a, stay there. But again, my most shocking experience, I will never, never forget uh, was to observe uh, an incident. I should mention first that every day when the doctor came I, after a few days, I saw what was happening that he made different, different marks on the patient's chart and there was a certain mark, and the patient never woke up in the morning because he was injected with poison. The incident I was referring to, which I will never forget, that my neighbor was lying next to me. Must have been a man in his, probably in the fifties, and he got his mark and I knew that in the morning he won't wake up, which was the case. But the more shocking thing was for me to see how people were dehumanized by all this. When his son came to see his father the next morning, and he was told his father is dead, the first question was, where is his bread ration. And they made animals out of people, in that people were so hungry for a piece of bread, that was his number one concern, and the second was to reach in his father's mouth to see if he can pull out the gold tooth so he can sell it for another slice of bread. But this is what, what was, what was done to people...

You survived the infirmary.

E: We survived, yes.

You were not kept in the infirmary?

E: Oh ya, I was released to, again, you know, it was to, to my amazement, the, the, the report came back, it was negative, and they let me out. B: You know, there were such extremes that it's difficult to, never mind to explain, but...

E: No rhyme or reason to some of these things... B: Because, if you stop and think, the type of work that Emery did, or that I did, was certainly not important to keep, if you were sick, and with all this extermination going on, why bother having a clinic.

E: Or why bother with somebody who was even suspicious of diphtheria. B: Not only that, but...

E: When you were killing healthy people all along. B: Right, you know, it's beyond comprehension, but I mentioned to you that I was beaten up on Yom Kippur in a Nitra jail, I just happened to recall now, that when I was slapped, when my face was slapped, my glasses broke, and fortunately the front frame stayed intact with the lenses, so I made myself wire handles. When I got to Birkenau--no, into Gleiwitz, I'm sorry--I was sent to the clinic, and I got a new frame. So absolutely bewildering why they would uh, care about me having glasses altogether, never mind having them in good shape.

E: I suppose somewhere was for picture taking and for sending in and keeping the world under false...under the false...right... B: I don't recall ever seeing anybody ever visiting or caring about this as to what's happening to us and what isn't happening to us. It's just uh, I don't know, as I say, it's very difficult to understand.

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