Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Labor in Camps

Were you ever assigned special duties?

Uh, when I went to um, my fourth camp which was uh, Melk, when I got there they assigned us to these barracks--strictly by chance--and I got assigned to this barrack, at, at the uh, barrack leader was a old German criminal. He, he had the, we all carried a badge. You either had a star which meant you were Jew and the uh, the political prisoners had a different kind of insignia and the criminals had different kind, so we always knew who was in for what. And uh, this particular old German, he was a criminal. And uh, he was the, the, the uh, uh, Blockleiter which meant he was the, he was in charge of this barrack. And he happened to be the same man that uh, was in charge of the barrack at a time when I was first assigned to Auschwitz, before I went into the hospital. And uh, so I, I just, as a chance he was known as a very cruel man. As a chance I went up to him and I, and I kind of greeted him and I, I told him how glad I was to see him and he looked at me stupefied. And I said, "Oh, I, I guess you don't remember me but I was in your barrack," I happened to remember the number of the barrack, "I was in your barrack in Auschwitz." "Oh," he says, "yeah," he says, "you'll be my, my Stubendienst." which meant that I was his uh, his uh, helper in the barracks and for a short time I did that before I was assigned to the uh, to the uh, um, coal mine.

And then you worked in the coal mine?


Can you describe it?

We, we brought coal out. We, we pushed those little wheel, wheely things out. [laughs]  We brought coal out.

Lots of work experience.


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