Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Konstam - October 25, 1991

Labor Duty

All right, let's, let's talk about your experience in the camp. You volunteered to go for labor duty.

Yeah, yeah, and labor camp and...

When you volunteered, where did you go to volunteer?

They had a place where you registered in the ghetto.

So the Judenrat then.

No, no, in the ghetto. They had offices over there where you come in to register.

The army did, German army?

No, it was Jewish of... They uh...

So offices run by the Judenrat probably.

Yeah, yeah.

So you went and you registered for labor.


So then what happened?

And then they, a certain day they said to come to a c... uh, to the uh, uh, Einsatzplatz, you know, the place where you, your station. And uh, we all came there to that place and from there they marched us to the uh, uh, uh, we took a long course that's uh, like a, a backpack, you know.

]interruption in interview]

They rented uh, a certain, at the train station and they put us on trains. Regular train.

Regular trains.

Yeah, regular trains.

Not box cars.

There were... No, we were just still treated as human beings then. And then we came to this camp. It was in the winter. It was in December of 1940. Oh no, either sim... No, it was before. It was about uh, maybe November in 1940. That camp was not ready yet. So we didn't go out to work. But I volunteered to uh, to work with the carpenters over there to set up the camps, set up the barracks and so on. And uh, the other people that didn't want to work sat in the barracks. Uh, but uh, it was always an advantage if you go to work. And I uh, the fact is uh, I uh, learned carpentry over there and practically throughout the war I, in every camp I went I had uh, the luck to work as a carpenter in the camps, which was uh, to my advantage, you know. Otherwise you had to go in the coalmines. Or I... There were times that I had to work with the, with the pick and shovel, just say uh, for many months if there was no work as, to uh, doing carpentry. But uh, I would say about seventy percent of the time I work as a carpenter. And uh, uh, and I was pretty good at my trade, I suppose, because they all wanted me to work with them.

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