Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Krystal - September 19, 1996

Recollections of Starachowice

Um, what are, what are some of the recollections about that period, was it about a year that you were there?

Uh, it was from '42 to '44 and the meantime, they, they, in the camp there was an epidemic of typhus and every morning when we came back from work when I was still working with the night shift. Uh, we and the, the people that were uh, the oth...other people in the, in the, in the camp were taken out and they had to run. If they were sick and they couldn't run they would be shot and then we had to uh, put them in mass graves.

So this was a selection, they were doing selections?

Well, it was kind of a selection on the basis of how ill they, the people were.

Did you particip...were you a part of this?


Did you also take, take part in the burying?

As it happened I was not picked. You know, they just picked some people. I was not picked for the burying.

But you saw this?


Did you come down with typhus at this point?

No. Uh, I had had it before. Some people who say that they had typhus more than once, that's because towards the end they had typhoid fever.

So once you've had typhus you're, you're immune.


Wha...was this the upper camp?

This was the upper camp, yes. Eventually they liquidated that camp and they sent us all to the other camp which was called Majowka uh, and uh, that camp was close to where the steelworks were. Uh, the, like uh, the high furnace that melts the ore, you have to feed it constantly with, with uh, uh, ore and, and uh, coke and, and uh, uh, calcium carbonate, things like that. And so uh, this was a, a, a much better camp in, in, in many ways and we were transferred there. Apparently, maybe there were fewer people. And after awhile a transport arrived there that we were told that they had been in some camp like uh, some terrible camp out East, maybe even Treblinka. But we didn't know for sure and I, I didn't, I never did find out. But they were very angry and they were also hostile to the people that were running the camp. The Jews and the Jewish police and the, and the...eventually Chaim's brother was the camp commander, like the Jewish one and, and they were angry against him. And uh, when they finally, um, uh, sent us to, when they were sending us to Auschwitz, they put these people with the leaders into the wagon, in one wagon and by the time we arrived in Auschwitz the Jewish leaders were killed.

Including Chaim's brother?

Chaim's brother tried to run away the night before we were shipped and he was killed and one of his daughters, one of his daughters survived. There was a kind of a run uh, the night before we were, we were sent away and uh, s...s...a, a, one or two people managed to get away.

Do you remember if they, if you talked to the, this new group, that they told you anything about what had gone on at this camp?

They, I, I never got to talk to them and they never, they were not willing to just talk.

So it's in sort of retrospect that you think that they may have actually been to Treblinka.

Oh, well, that was the word about them.

Now at this point, 1943, the end of '43, had you heard more about the East?

Yes. By the time we got to Starachowice, gradually the word came to us about what was happening in the East and how they were killing the people and how the people who had been sent there were now uh, all gone. They were all killed. Uh, although the, the, the, the details of the, the killing machine that they had developed there were not known to us in detail. Uh, but we knew very well that they had, they had been, they had destroyed most of the people that they took from the big ghettos and that they killed them.

And the names of the camps, were they...

Treblinka was known to us.

But not Auschwitz?

I, I don't recall uh, hearing the name of Auschwitz.

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