Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Herman Opatowski - November 2, 1981

Fate of Family

Did any of your family go?

Nobody, nobody is alive. All the family went to Osten, to, to the east, as they say, in Germany. Germany is Osten. They sent them up there to labor camps. They were moved there, but they finished them up the same day.

What kinds of experiences can you tell me about uh, at Auschwitz?

Well uh, of course uh, we went uh, to work in uh, in the morning and we came uh, back uh, in the evening. And uh, we had uh, practically everyday we had uh, we experienced a coming back and before letting us go to pick up the soup, they made a, uh, Appell on, on the, on the place there, the field and practically everyday, every second day there were two, three, four, five, ten because he stole the potato, the other didn't move to the right and uh, this and that. Every time, they had, of course they had excuses. We had to stay and witness practically every day, every second day, third day--stand there and after the ceremony they let us go to, to the barracks to pick up the soup. This was six days a week. The seventh day, Sunday, this was special, special, it was just...It was no work. It was just to take to work uh, to work let's say uh, 300 people from our group was. And the, the, the, the leader knew when he's taking out three hundred people to work, he has to come back with 250. And this we had the experience, so. I had one, one Sunday an experience like this. They took us and it was left, I don't know how many, I gave you an example 350 left and some other groups had just hundred and to bring back ninety or, or ninety-five, I don't know. But my group was, let's say, it was uh, fifty maybe. And uh, they finished off there, I don't know how many exactly. But they finished off. It, it was impossible. It was worse especially with dogs, where they, the stuff with SS, the chasing, you know that sort of stuff. So they gave us a stone, save for myself. I had a stone, let's put it this way, this size, this wide, this big. So I had to get with, with the other guy and to run with it. It was impossible. And especially it wasn't uh, the ground, it wasn't uh, uh, solid, it was mud, it was. Well, take time to get out one leg and put the other. We couldn't uh, get out so fast. And then and so on, they runned on, on horses next to us, you know, with the dogs and we had to run faster. Who could do this? So it was special made and uh, they had the like surround us there were electric wires. Who wants to run there, they let him run. So we had a few run there, they, they, they couldn't take it. They run to the electric, electric wire and uh, sticking there. We had a lot of experiences, yes, about the things.

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