Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Esther Praw - May 22, 1983

Life in Starachowice

What type of work did they have you doing there?

We worked in the factory. I had the nightshift, you know, and uh, the worst thing there was the lice. Whatever--we couldn't sleep because it was terrible, bed bugs, lice. So we went to sleep outside, and they were, you can't even believe, in the grass. We have them all over, you know. I have one friend, what um, she's not alive now, she was with me there, we were close and we slept together and did everything together. Um, I, I was used to hard work from Europe yet because I worked, you know. The people that were not used to work, most of them they didn't survive. But I was used not to have enough food and I was used to work hard so this um, you know, made me to go by. Now I'm thinking I was sick there, it was in Starachowice. In Starachowice was one uh, one German, his name was ???, if I could get him now, even I'm a woman, I would do anything it's possible to make him suffer for what he did. He told the people--it was an epidemic, a typhus epidemic, and he told the people they should all go in the hospitals, there's not going to be killing anymore, because he used to come and tell everybody should go out from the barracks, and everybody should walk straight. I mean people had fever, 100, not--now I said 100 but in Europe it was 40, or whatever. The people couldn't walk straight. He took them away, and in the evening the clothes came from the people. So, this, this happened quite often what he did, but, then he came and he said that people should go, he's making a hospital, this was the name Revier they called it, and the people that are going to go in the hospital they are not going to be killed anymore. So he came in the evening in the hospital and killed them all in the hospital and this was my friend, with whom I went with him together to the town, his sister lived there, from p...from Opatów to Starachowice we went together, with a friend of mine, so they killed the people there. Then, I got sick. Typhus. My girlfriend got sick before but I--we slept anyway together, because I said we cannot get away from it, you know, with the dirt and with the, with the bugs, so I got sick too. And sometimes now I am thinking how in the world a person can survive without medicine, without aspirin, without water, and without food. They give you some food, a piece of bread but if you have, you have typhus you cannot eat those kind of things. So, and we knew that we are going to go, because or they take us down there, or he tells us to walk, whatever, every, every few days was something else. But it came to a point, I don't think so, maybe the fever went to our heads or, we didn't, we didn't care. So she has a friend, he was a policeman, a Jewish policeman, in camp. And he came up and he said everybody has to go out, so we said we are not going, what for? They want to kill us, is here. He couldn't do nothing about it, he was her boyfriend, but he couldn't do one thing. So we stood in the barracks and everybody went out, only we were. In a half hour, he came back and he said you are saved. We didn't understand how, and now nobody came in the half hour to see if we are there. He said a new German came, and he said no more killing, when somebody get sick. If he did it on his own, I, I believe he did it on his own. They took ??? away and they sent another one, his name was ???. Because from the high authority they had to kill, but he probably could do it. And then um, we survived from typhus. Because it wasn't anymore killing there. And uh, I don't recall dates, like I mentioned to you, but the people between us they start to talk that they are going to kill us in a uh, electric oven. And the camp is going to be--everybody will go out from here. So, her name was--my girlfriend's name was Manya, and she had a sister, and she had a brother, she had two sisters and a brother in camp. And we make up our minds, and the boyfriend of her, what he was the policeman, he said, we are going to run away. In the night, a lot of people, there's going to be a signal, people are going to take a chance. We are going to run. So when it was the signal to run, Manya's sister had some medicine for her brother because he, he was a little bit on the sick side. I think he had a heart condition or something. And she lost the medicine, and I start to pick it up, and Manya ran, out. The boyfriend wait for us, it was too late to go. Manya ??? ran out of from the camp. The next day--yeah, they start to shoot, and a lot of people got shot, you know. The next day they took us out, they count us, and they send us away to Auschwitz.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn