Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Esther Praw - May 22, 1983

Conditions at Bergen-Belsen

What were the conditions like in the barracks?

Very, very bad, you know. The most--the worst thing was that the people died every day, a lot of people died on typhus. And they took them out in front and they were counting us with the dead people together. And the condition were again the piece of bread with a little bit of soup, and beat up people for, for anything, for nothing, you know. It was bad. Or, at least it wasn't any ovens, you know. And the dead people were laying, they didn't even bury them, so it was really unbelievable. So I work for her, and she accused me one day that I--she was stealing herself, from the kitchen, things, and I didn't care, God should forgive me if I did steal something, the hunger was undesirable, and I didn't even care if I saw something, I would grab it. Because when a person gets so hungry, that you don't even, you don't even think, don't steal or don't kill. Okay, I wouldn't kill. But if I would see a piece of bread laying or something, I would grab it, probably because it was horrible. So she accused me that I steal from her some fat. She had enough fat, if I did, I told her. And I quit. I was um, I am a person, I'm very touchy, and even when I was in a, in a position what I need her um, if you accuse me...I told her, I said, "What I'm going to do with the fat? You have an oven, you can cook." She was allowed cook, I mean a little bit, she could do something here she was a big shot there. But what am I going to do with the fat, I ask her. She said oh, you can give it to your friends, they have over there, they can do something. So I quit. And um, the same week when I quit, or a week later, I got sick. I didn't have fever, nothing, must be from the smell from the dead, could be. I stopped to eat, and when you stop to eat a little piece of bread, then you're out. I was laying and I couldn't eat at all so came a transport of people and somebody, I don't remember who, brought me a little piece of garlic I should put on the bread. A lady. And I really, the garlic helped me, and I start to eat, and then after, a short time after, we got liberated, you know. But uh, plenty times are so near to death. I don't--I, I missed a lot of things that I didn't tell you. Because first I forgot things, you know, like I said, I forget a lot. And, and if I would like to tell you everything what I went through what's very painful. To have to, to I probably up day and night. I probably wouldn't finish it in a day and a night what uh, I saw and we went through. Unbelievable. Like I think, when somebody comes and they just make um, a remark, "I don't believe it," it doesn't mean that you don't believe it, it just means that you--this person cannot understand. But if somebody really doesn't believe it, or they say that it didn't happen, that really gets me very angry. Because every word what I said now, it's not only what happened, but I didn't describe to you 1% what happened. Because like uh, my memory is gone, after years I forgot, I, I don't know, I just... Unbelievable that a person can--and since--not everybody I think is like that, because I have some friends they do remember. Dates. They remember what happened, everything. Me? I don't know. Just, blank a lot of times.

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