Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - May 11, 1982

Life in Auschwitz

And then they turned us over to the gypsies. These guys, they were just sub-human. They marched us with a band and the mer...gypsies were marching us around. So they're trying to, to, to, probably showing the camp...show us the camp...the way the camp looks like and that stench, that smoke, and then you see those skeletons left and right. Bodies thrown every place, everywhere, and then you see people walking those, those two wheelers carting some dead people, carting those guys. It was just unbelievable. We were, we were so confused. We didn't know exactly what, what, what's going on. And there you have a march...a band is marching with us, in front of us...want us to be in step. So they took us into the uh, we didn't know it, must have been uh, some sort of a washroom and it was a very, very large washroom. And they told us to sit down. We sat down. They told us to take off our...then they told us to "Get up," so we got up. They took away our clothes and they shaved us. And finally, they used some sort of a disinfectant or something of, of, to, to uh, on our body. And it smelled and it burned so badly but these people didn't care. And then we have to stay in line and they registered us. They made out a card for everybody. And then they gave us a cap, a mütze. I don't believe...yes, they gave us, an underwear to put on and also those uh, prisoner clothes. We put on those prisoner clothes. But you had to do all that, you know, one, two, three, because they're always, "Raus! Raus! Raus!" I mean in a hurry...they were always in a hurry to do that. And then those who were...finally got to the, you know, their clothes and their whatever they were giving us...the shoes they let us keep. But we were smart enough to know that...we had an idea immediately to change shoes with some other people so that...because they were looking to see what kind of a good shoes we were...we saw them when they were mar...you know when they were walking down and inspecting us, they were looking to see what kind of a shoes we had. And if they saw some beautiful shoes, then immediately they just came then, they beat the guy up, and they yell, "Give me the shoes." And you have to give them the shoes and they in turn gave him, poor guy, they gave him a pair of those Dutch uh, clogs, you know those, those wooden shoes. I was lucky, I changed shoes. Had we known, God almighty, had we known what was going on, we probably would have done something! We would have...something would have...we could have done something. I mean to, either to get away or, or, or, or resist...even resisting but nothing, but still resist. Well, we got there so we finally...everybody was...at least my group...when they finished with my group. So then, we start to get up and they started to march us back to the uh, barracks. And while we were marching, whenever they didn't...somebody was a little bit out of step, or was a little out of line, they beat 'em. They whipped 'em. They were so nasty and then you had to...they, they marched you in front of the barracks. They kept you in front of the barracks until everybody is going to arrive, because this particular barracks was assigned to apparently to this...to us. And, and there was a Polish man...a Polack. God, what a vulgar face, a rat face, and he was looking, he was looking for shoes and he was looking if somebody...he didn't like somebody's uh, looks, he was just ready to beat 'em. And there were, I must confess, and you may not like to hear that, some of our Jewish boys were pretty bad. They were just as bad as the, as the SS, maybe because they had been there God knows for how long and they didn't know, know, know any other life. They too had become some animals. But, one thing I've noticed there...we started to be alert. Family clinged to each other, like the brothers...the three brothers...we three brothers, who were left together. We clinged to each other and we tried to be together at all time. And uh, we were there in Auschwitz, for about, let's see, we got there the 29th of May. We were there for five days and then they processed us through and they shipped us away, and we didn't know exactly where we were going but the only thing that they did tell us...as long as you're getting out of Auschwitz then you're going to a Lager which is, it's a labor camp, where you are going to work and you'll get, at least, some food. If you'll be able to survive it, then you're lucky. If you don't, then they'll shoot you. They'll kill you.

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