Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Helen Lang - February 23, 1982

Life in Birkenau

...it was eight people to--if one turned around, the other one had to turn around.

Eight people...

Eight people, yeah, upper ???.

...on the upper ???

Yeah. As I say, if one had to turn around, the other had to turn, that's how close we were by. We were sleeping there with people. Next day we had to go for Z ählappell, they called it--I think six o'clock--to count us that we didn't escape. That was every morning and every night. Well, we went--first we had to go wash. There was, you know, a toilet. Well, you know, probably that--how it was there. It was just holes there.


And then we went in the washing room and uh, we washed ourselves. It was so cold there in the morning, you know, that water was so cold. They didn't let us soap, nothing. We didn't dry ourselves with our clothes. And that's how we came out, we Z ählappell.

What was the water like...

It was...

...besides cold. Was it...

...it was very cold water. Very cold.

...was it grey water?

It was standing a little bit. It was rusty, it was red...


...that kind of water they had there. And then we had to Z ählappell, five in the line, you know. There was the Stuben älteste who there took care of us, you know. She was like the boss or something of us. She had to see that we stay in order. And then the German came and counted us. And then we went back in the room. We didn't--yeah, we got breakfast. We--what did we have--we got the piece of margarine like this, one little spoon of, of jam and then a piece of bread. That was it for all day long. And at night, we did the same thing. And then we got some soup. They gave us some plate and maybe six or eight people. We had no spoons, nothing. We were everybody was drinking like this from there. It was like a bowl and everybody was drink. It was just I think uh, soup--they put some dress or something. You couldn't see even at the table there. And everybody drank from that uh, bowl.

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