Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Konstam - October 25, 1991

Religion in the Camps

Well, while you were there in these places...


You come from a Hasidic background.


Was there any prayers in the camps? Did you take part in it while you were there?

We... It's a funny thing. When we used to go to work, I remember just like it was today, and we used to go to work and we uh, figured out it was Rosh Hashanah. We, and we were marching to work, going back, we have just prayed by heart. No, we didn't have any uh, but we tried to keep up the best we could. We did uh, try uh, like on Hanukkah, you had to make candles or something like that. Like candles in the bags and so on.

And on Yom Kippur, did you fast?

Yeah, we... Huh?

Did you fast on Yom Kippur?

Fast? We fasted all year round!

So you didn't make any special effort for that.

??? stupid? We go to work and you have to have some sustenance if you want to survive. Otherwise uh, you have...

Did any people you knew who were religious...


um, stop being observant, stop being religious?

I did after the war. After the war, I was so angry, I... In fact, we also saw many uh, times the uh, some, the ??? be hanged in the camps and so on, quite uh, common sight, you know. I said, "Why, if there is a God, why would you do that?" All, the most pi... especially Poland, it was the source of uh, Talmudist Hasidim. Pious people. And these were the worst ones that... They were, they were... These were the worst off, you know. They suffered most. Why take out our best, you know? And after the war I just couldn't make peace with the idea that there is a God. I really threw everything out, you know. And uh, I said, I said, less do the less die. And, you know, there is no judgment, there is no judge, there is no Law or anything. I was very, very bitter after the war. When I was still in the camp, I didn't have time to think, you know. But late, we still kinda kept up best way we could, you know. But after the war, I really was angry, you know. And how I survived the last days of the war is uh, interesting. Uh, we were on the marches. And it got to be so that I just couldn't walk, couldn't walk. And, and my groin here was, hurt so I couldn't lift my legs because we marched day and night, day and night. And there it came a time of year when they had us rest in a field.

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