Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Opas - [n.d.]

Work in Buchenwald

Did you work during that time?

No, we didn't go to work. And uh, and we actually begged to go to work because at work we could, we could manage to, to, to steal something or, or organize something. There in that camp we had to rely on that little soup and that piece of bread. Like, li...a half, half my, my--a tiny little piece of bread maybe. Maybe five dec or five--how do you say? Fifty, fifty grams. And it was like, oh, like, like dirt--terrible, terrible bread. And lousy soup. This was the only food we got. So naturally we couldn't survive on this. Everybody--we, we begged to go to work but they wouldn't take us. Finally we had to, we had to go out at night time around three o'clock in the morning. We smuggled, we smuggled into the big, big camp where they selected people to work. Lèon Blum was there in that, that big camp, you know the French premier?


Oh, you didn't know. Yeah, we--I saw him there. So we smuggled into the big camp and there they selected us to go work--to, to Wei...we went by car to, to Weimar. Weimar was about eight kilometers away from, from the camp. It was a big city, Weimar. There we worked at uh, at finding the dead bodies because it was bombed. The whole city was very badly bombed. And um, and we, we had to clean out those ruins--stones, bricks, and find bodies, dead bodies. This was the only chance we had because the German population who watched, who watched how we find their, their relatives, they brought us some food. This was the only--they treat us sandwiches, or whatever they had, I don't know. They were not allowed to do it. Even, they even, they throw a shot. See, tried to scare them away with--by shotting at them. But they did anyway because they were thankful that we founded their relatives. And then they were homes bombed so we got into the cellars. There were stored some food--we found food there. I mean, we had to find some ways of...


Yeah I remember we were--one, one day I went into a--we worked in a bank, a bank, a bank building--it was sort of demolished and there were--so when we, we arrived and we got placed in this bank, I said, "Oh my God, here, here we, we will starve. What, what am I going to eat, paper?" Because there were pa...finally we went outside, outside from the backyard there were cellars. And through the window--we went in through the window--me and a few other guys went in through the window into the cellars and there were all kind of food. Conserving wine, wine and I got drunk--I couldn't even get up. Well, this was one, one day of--after so many months--it was one day where I got drunk. And finally the, the German, the German who watched us--Wehrmacht--he had to help me out--I, I couldn't get out myself.

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