Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Herman Opatowski - November 2, 1981

Conditions in Auschwitz-Birkenau

Did you have any uh, special duties that you were assigned?

Pardon me?

Did you have any duties that you were assigned yourself uh, everyday, or...

No, I was uh, like I told, because I was a, I had a profession, a engineer. And uh, they took me, not, not exactly to my profession, but uh, as a mechanical engineer they gave me to do some mechanical work. And I had it a little, it wasn't all bad as with some other who didn't have uh, no skill. There some other, they worked very, very hard. As much as I mentioned as I, I was uh, a little more, I was luckiest it wasn't so bad. But some days I had been bringing after work. A lot of time they took me out, that's what it reminds me now, they took me out to one time to load or unload bricks. So they put together, especially made by them in this way as one has to throw the other the brick, let's say ten people, from the ground up to the railroad stayed up, if you down, if you up. Unloading the things. So one has to throw to the other. And they made it, of course as I said, with the, the stuff from SS, there was a special, they were trained, how, how to treat the Jews. And the, the, the one down they started to knock his head off, it has to go fast. So uh, he couldn't even see or figure when he throws so fast that the other hand will catch it and throw it to the other, to the other. You know what, uh, uh, we, uh, uh, a teamwork was all right. But they especially made it, it should be a kill. So everyone throws on others feet. On other head, on other this and that. It was, was impossible. So I, I made once to it. And another time I had with uh, cement sack. This was some things about uh, when I wasn't assigned. Usually the, the, the six days, five and a half days, on Saturdays we worked half days so uh, at work I was all right. But back to the barracks, where they, where they took me out again to work, so I had a few kind of experiences. It was meant... The regular work, as I mentioned before, it uh, we did work, we stayed where they need us, because they need us, yes. But uh, beside this, when we went back to the barracks and they took us again to work it was special, just as a I mentioned let's say from a hundred to bring back ninety from there or ninety-five or eighty-five, I don't know uh, every time. Of course uh, they didn't give enough, enough food to be, to be strong uh, you know, to do the work. But by my real work I was all right.

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