Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Paul Molnar - July 24, 2002

Return to Buchenwald


Or they had all kinds of diseases.

The Krankenstube.

Yes, or they had injuries like I had. So this area was an area separated from the main camp, with, with barbed wire fence and these people were just out in the open sky. There was no barrack for 'em or anything, no blankets, nothing. And they got even less food. So my cousin put me in there because I, he, he knew that. You know, I can't go to work the next day and they, what am I going to do. You can't carry me out there, then what are we going to do. So they put me in there and I was in this area and they came and visit me every night. I was there maybe ten days. An announcement came that people in the special area are being sent back to Buchenwald. So I figured that's good, I'll maybe get some treatment, there they have a hospital. I knew they had a prisoner hospital. And uh, I said goodbye to the people I knew, my uncle, my cousin and was put on the cattle car again and went back to Buchenwald. It's only like a three-hour trip, not very far. When we got off the train in Buchenwald, the train station, the trains are outside the camp, outside the gate. Uh, they told us that we're not going to Buchenwald but we're going somewhere else. Didn't tell us where 'cause it wasn't our concern. And they load...started loading us up on this other train and there were eight hundred of us, but there was like eight hundred and ten or eight hundred and twelve. And because of my bad leg I could barely move. I could just drag myself. I was at the very, very end of the line. And when they got to eight hundred, they said, rest of you, go in the main camp. Well, at this point I went to the main camp. That's the first time I was ever in the main camp. Let me just tell you, the eight hundred were sent to Auschwitz and all gassed, which I did not know at the time. But I found out after I was back in the main camp. That's what happened. So I was assigned to go to the main camp. The main camp had fifty barracks at that time. And it was not a camp uh, for Jews. It was for, as I said, the local prisoners. There was a two barracks which had Jews in it. Forty-eight and forty-nine. Now these were people who were Jews, but they were really not there because they were Jews, they were there 'cause they were the local active opponents of the Nazis. Again, we had Germans, and Czechs and Poles and Dutch, you name it. All sorts of nationalities. I was put into Block 49 where the Blockälteste, the leader, was a German Jew and his two assistants were Czech Jews. And there were about twenty of us children, including me, in there. When I mean children, they were from, I don't know, age thirteen to age sixteen or so. And uh, as the camp was run by prisoners, they made an effort to make our life as children as bearable as possible. So when I went to, to the work office to be assigned next day, 'cause you had to go there and they assigned your jobs. Me, instead of being sent outside the camp, which was the most dangerous place to be, work in a factory, because you're exposed to German guards and to very bad Kapos who were prisoners who were also very bad, I was assigned to work-and all us children were-I was assigned to work inside the camp. And I had all sorts of duties. I cleaned latrines, I swept streets, I uh, emptied trash from barracks. I worked in the laundry. You know, everyday they told me, do this, do that.


Inside. I was al- inside the camp where only saw German guards now twice a day. When I was counted in the morning and when I was counted. I never saw any Germans. I only dealt with the prisoners, which was a lifesaver. I didn't have any more food than I had before. But I had less threat of, of being, of immediate danger, of somebody just 'cause they don't like your looks kill you. It wouldn't happen inside the camp 'cause the Germans really didn't come in. I, I don't think they, they felt very comfortable, you know, to, to walk around. I never saw any, except when they counted us. And uh, while I was there, as I tell, I did all these jobs. A marvelous thing happened to me and what happened was that they had a many, many talented people of all nationalities in this camp in Buchenwald. They had teachers, they had artists, they had musicians, they had singers, they had poets. And we were not allowed to have schools. That was like an absolute no, no. However, they organized for us children a school where they ran school for us, three-four nights a week. Totally illegal. In our barrack. These people came in and they sang songs with us. They talked, they read poetry. They told us stories. And what they did was they encouraged us saying that, "Look, you're in a terrible place, you have no family here, no friends, you don't know anybody. All you see is cruelty, this horrible place." But they said, "Look, there is a nice world out there and you'll see, you're going to survive and you're going to have this beautiful world out there again." And it was really very, very nice. And what it did was, while it didn't give us more food for our belly, it certainly gave us tremendous encouragement not to give up. Because the most-the biggest fear was that if you give up there was no hope. Once you gave up you died. You didn't have any, any-you see, you just died, you died, I mean, that was it.

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