Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Opas - [n.d.]

Being Ill

Mm-hm. Medical facilities in Auschwitz?

Yes, there were medical facilities. Yeah, there was a hospital.

Did you ever have need to go there?


Did you know many who went?

Yeah. And they never came back.

Never came back.

Never came back. A few friends of mine who I worked with--I told him not to go. I said, "If you, if you have to die, die at peace, die at peace at work or, not to--don't go to the hospital," because they went a few days later--they were destroyed. They didn't come back. I was very sick in Auschwitz.


I, I had, I contracted typhus. And at work, I couldn't stay on my feet, I mean, I was burning up. High, high temperature. And the foreman--he was German actually--he saw it. He saw that I, that I cannot stay--I was really falling a...falling apart. So he told me, he told me to, to watch the fire--it was the wintertime. We were not clothed. No, no coat, nothing, just the--that, that mm, wooden material--that stripes and wooden shoes. He told me to sit at the fire and watch the fire and warm myself. So I did. And on the, on the way back to the camp he told me to, to report to the hospital. "I don't want to see you at work," he told me, "because you are too sick. You cannot perform anyway." But I was afraid to go to the hospital. The next day I came to work again and told him "I, I feel better." I didn't feel better, but I told him, "I feel better." I felt if I had to die, I'd rather die at work among, among my people--among the friends. So somehow--I don't know, I got better. Strong will.


I got better and I managed somehow--I don't know how. I, I really thought for about six days I was a real--very sick--I thought I'm going to die.

Were you ever assigned any other special duties other than, you know, that one time he said to watch the fire--did you get any special duties to perform?

No, no the one day only. He told me to watch the fire and to--and he gave me some potatoes too. Raw potatoes to bake.

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