Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Konstam - October 25, 1991

Impression of Auschwitz

What was it like being tattooed?


When you got tattooed, that must have been somewhat of a shock.

And after this, after, after that, they looked you, the following day they looked you over, you know. And um, and they uh, you go here, you go there. You don't know which one is the right line to go to, but they tell you where to go, you know. Anyway, they ask you...

What did you think when they did that?


What did you think when they did that? Did you think...

We, we knew, we knew, we knew al... At that point we knew what's happening. We knew what's happening. Uh, if you had any uh, little skin on your body uh, they put you to work, you know, to a place where you can work. And the others... By the way, we didn't know where the right place is, you know, but the, the uh, officer come by and ask whether they have any profession or, so. I told him Zimmermann, which was uh, valuable to them, you know.

A carpenter.

A carpenter, yeah. It was valuable to them and uh, uh... So uh, uh, if you come out and they send you to the barracks, you're, you're life, you know. And other way you're just, you're just dead, you know.

Do you remember any chimneys?

Uh, the uh, there were in Birkenau there were chimneys, yeah.

Do you remember when you got off the trains, seeing fire, chimney smoke?

I don't remember that, but when we were on the car we saw 'em, we saw it, yeah.

So your first impressions were just the noises and then...

Well, you know, survival. Survival. It's all, the whole thing from A to Z is survival. You survive for five years, you know, and the fact is uh, uh, the uh, in ??? initially uh, I worked the same way, you know, either some time I worked with a pick and shovel and some other times I worked as a carpenter. Uh, and uh, but when you worked as a carpenter you were better off because you worked with one individual German and uh, sometimes if they could, they shove you a uh, piece of bread, you know.

This is civilian?


Civilian German?

Civilian, yeah. And if they'll, if you're a good worker and they like you, you know. And uh, uh, uh, after this we went on the marches from Jaworzno. From there we got...

Wait, wait. So, where's Birkenau first?


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