Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984


And you were back in Buchenwald?

I was back in Buchenwald, I was there in Buchenwald, but I did a little bit of work, menial work over there, the garbage and all kinds of, uh... Things were just as rough over there as they were anyplace else. So, you worked in a different camp. And uh, one day there was uh, we were standing in line, in front of a garbage can and uh, to wait there for, for the uh, you know, for the uh, potato peels and who knows, the likes of cabbage or something they're going to throw into the garbage can, so that we could, you know, pick out something to have something to eat. So, one of the um, Kapos, he must have been a German, came with his dog and he said, "You know the dog wouldn't eat that." So we said to ourselves, I mean, we said to, we said, "I wish you would treat us like you treat the dog." We...

Let me ask you a question... What, what kind of sanitary conditions were there at Buchenwald or at Auschwitz, because you haven't mentioned it?

We were full of lice. We had lice. We were full of lice. They had some sanitary condition but the sanitary condition didn't amount to anything, the only time we had a sanitary condition was in one particular section of the Lager that was in the grossen Lager, where they used to show it off, I mean, to the other people, but in kleinem Lager, I mean, they, they used to have uh, uh, we were uh, so many lice that uh, we didn't know what to do with it, didn't know how to get rid of them.

Was there disease?

Oh, sure, there were all kinds of diseases over there. Typhus, I mean, that didn't bother them. The um, somebody finally discovered something, you know, the uh, pipes, the steam pipes, if you take the uh, if you take your clothes and you wet 'em and you put 'em and then you, you twist them around the steam pipes with the lice, then all of a sudden, the lice, I mean uh, get killed and this is how you were able to get rid of your lice.

This is Buchenwald?

That was Buchenwald. This is supposed to be the, the uh, the camp, I mean, the Lager that the Germans were showing off, I mean, to the world.

What else do you remember?

I remember about Buchenwald, one day, you know, the uh, I, I was in the um, bathroom, I was going to the, to the la... The bathroom. I went to the latrine, to the outhouse, it was in an afternoon, and all of a sudden, I just looked up over there and I saw a big circle around the uh, in the sky. A plane came and made a circle, then he flew away, and then all of a sudden, I heard tremendous explosions, noise, and all kinds of things. They bombed the, the, the grossen Lager they bombed. I mean, the, the, the factory that was there in, in Buchenwald. And naturally after they bombed that factory, there was one good thing that we did see over there that was during noontime and the whole barracks with the SS were killed. That was the only highlight of the day. We were uh, and then, we didn't... After that I wasn't very long and they took us to Schlieben, not to, uh... Yeah, they took us to Schlieben. No, excuse me, the one I said before, I didn't go to Schlieben, that was Seitz before originally. I made a mistake, I'm sorry. Now this time, I was taken to Schlieben and this is when I really started to uh, go through hell, in Schlieben. Schlieben was the pits. They used to work on the Panzerfaust. I used to be in the GieBerei. What I used to do was I used to take the sulfur from a bucket and I used to pour it into the missile and we each one of us had a quota of doing it. And if you didn't do it, you were beaten. And that's when that "Los, raus, raus, mach los, raus, mach los," used to be every second, every minute. It would driving you out of your mind. And to top it all off, that foreman, come lunchtime, he used to come in and have a sandwich, a thick sandwich in his hand with, with all kinds of, of, of wurst, kiel... kielbasa and, you know, it used to smell, it generates, you know, you know, and you were hungry anyhow, and he used to eat it in front of you. And after he go through with it, he would, you know, he'd try to, he threw it down on the floor so that we could all go and try and grab a crumb out of it. You know, things like that. And, uh...

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