Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Esther Praw - May 22, 1983

Arrival at Auschwitz

Can you describe to me what you saw when the transport stopped and you got out at Auschwitz?

Yeah. Um, I saw the ovens were burning. I saw people sitting in blankets on the floor, without hair. They looked like crazies, so I thought those people are crazy. Did you ever hear that before? Was it described like that? And um, and we, like, I knew that that's going to be the end, you know, because I hear that Auschwitz is uh, they burn people.

You had heard that before?

That's why we tried to run away from Starachowice, because somebody told us that uh, they had electric ovens or--you know. And they took us to, and they told us, it was already described to us when they take us, they tell us to take off the clothes and take a bag this mean death too, because that's what they did with our people, so when we came there, they took us to tell us to take off the clothes, but we're already prepared, and nobody, nobody was crying or carrying on or say anything you know. And then, we took a bed, it wasn't a guest bed, and they give us clothes, of course, one had um, the people what they were small, they give big clothes, small shoes you know. I don't recall if we were shaved the hair before or not. But I do remember that me, I told them I didn't care. When they're shaving off the people's hair, I ran out from the line to the people that had hair. A few people there were left with the hair, very few. So one, uh, Häftling, that is, you know what Häftling is now? A man, a man worked there, he said to me Polish, you cannot take here chances, because anything you do, even you don't do, you have chances to get burned. But you run away, from line to line, of course, so he said, don't do it anymore you know. And I had my hair. But 99% didn't have their hair. They took us uh, they give us the numbers, and then, and then they give us a number here too. And came to barracks. Some of our people, they were Czechs, Czech, Czechoslovakai, they were not so good. Maybe they were told to do it, or were afraid or want to keep their jobs. She heard from us for a speech when we came in, she gave us a needle to put on the number. She said that the needle had more worth here, more than a person has. A needle is more worth than a person, that's what she said you know. And she start to tell us that uh, anything, you know--I remember her name, they caught her after the war...

Can you tell me what her name was?

Her name was Regina, and I don't know her second name, I don't. And um, the, she was only, it's called a Stubowa That's for the room.

Can you explain what you mean, um?

She was the boss from our group. In Germany, Stubowa, Stubowa is a room. Stubowa.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn