Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - May 11, 1982

Life in Buchenwald

I was in Buchenwald. I was there for about a couple of months and things were not as bad. I didn't do a thing. Things were not as bad. And then, Jews used to arrive. We use to try and save our tallis and tefillin. We asked them, "Do you have tallis and tefillin? Do you have a tallis? Do you have a pencil? Do you have any paper?" And uh, they uh, some of them, we got some pencil and paper and it was almost, before the High Holidays and we wrote. Everybody who knew prayers by heart wrote some prayers up in Hebrew so that we could daven. And we used to hand out sheets for people just to daven as they were going back and forth. And we were davening there. We constantly davened. And many a times people were uh, asking us...those who didn't know how to daven..."Please say something with us." One man asked me once, he says, "Fiú...son...please say the Sh'ma Yisrael with me; I don't know how to say it." And I said it with him and we used to daven in the corner. And we were there, I was in barrack 57, my number was 57929. And I remember we were davening in the corner and one day there was a Polack with one arm and one leg, and he said something to some people out loud. I don't speak Polish, I didn't understand that. And there was a guy from Bessarabia who spoke Polish and Russian and that Polack said, "Why did God bring him over here to see more Jews? Didn't I see enough of them in Poland?" And he said to me this. And I said to him, "Well, I can only tell you this. I wish him before we get out of here that he should lose his other arm and his other leg. If he, if he can still talk about Jews when he is in the same predicament uh, as we are."

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