Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Opas - [n.d.]

Punishments in Camp

If someone did something wrong, what kind of punishments were meted out to them by the Germans?

He was beaten or shot. A lot of shooting going around. You know, on top of, on top of the starvation there were all the shootings and, and beatings. I will never forget, one, one day they somehow--I don't know, it was somebody squealed or something--they found out that one of the Jews had a--had swallowed a gold, a gold coin. Because when we arrived, they were--we were told to give up everything what we have--all the belongings. If someone has money or for whatever, we had to give it away. Well, some people try to forget, "Why should I give it--I think I can hide it." So he--I don't know if they found out or maybe they noticed. He swallowed it in...into his stomach. So he was taken out after, after, after, from, from the, from the...

[interruption in interview]

...by going--he was undressed--completely naked--he wa...we were standing around in circle and he had to go in the middle and everybody had to punch him and hit him, hit him over, over the head 'til he, 'til he, 'til he fall dead. This was the worst thing I ever saw in my life. And...

Who told--who ordered you to do this?

Germans. When they, when they, when they found out that he, he...


...swallowed a, a gold coin. They tried to, to, tried to kill him. But they didn't want to do this to themselves. They wanted us to do it. So finally he--when he fell, he couldn't, he couldn't, he couldn't move anymore. They start pouring--they opened his mouth and they poured water into it until he, until he drowned. 'Til he fell, fell dead. He was drowned in, in water. They poured into--whole, whole buckets of water. It was a terrible thing where--I, I witnessed this. Then, then the other day they caught a few, a few who tried to escape in Buchenwald. They, they hanged him. Young, young fellow, seventeen-year-old--a, a young youth tried to escape. They caught him and they hanged him. And we had to stay and watch it.


We were surrounded after work--everybody sits around in circle and we had to stay and watch how he hanged.

Hm. Was this a daily kind of activity or was this...

This was daily. Every day the same thing. Every day something else. Then there wasn't one day passed by which--without any excitement or uh, sensation.

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