Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Mrs. Roemerfeld - 1982?

Conditions in Cattle Car

How--can you describe that for me, how many people were in the car um, how...

It was standing room only and if not pushed one on top of the other. And there were no uh, facilities for restrooms or anything like that. It was horrible.

They closed the doors on you.

Oh yes. There were only small openings uh, like uh, gate uh, little gate, you know, type window uh, enough to breathe, if you called that breathing.

And um, you were all together at that time?

Oh yes.

Were any other members of your family with you? Your cousins?

Well, my, my family from my father's side and my mother's side. But we were all separated, pushed, you know, in and not knowing where anybody is.

Was it hard to stay together, the three of you?

It wasn't hard until we got to Auschwitz.

And how did you go to the bathroom in the cattle cars?

Uh, don't you think that's a little silly to ask? It was done...

Were there...

...right there.

There were no barrels or anything?

It as a barrel but it wasn't enough and it was awful.

Did they stop the trains to empty the barrels that...

No, no.

Was there every any water being served there.

No, they--we were told to take water with us. And uh, everybody...

Who told you that?

Uh, I remember I used to drink from a bottle, you know, a big bottle. We did not stop.

And how long were you on the train?

L...like I said, it was a long time, it must have been three or four days because it was a long ways from our home town and that was near Katowitz uh, pardon me, it was Krakow, near Krakow. So it's like the other side of Poland.

The other end of Poland.

Yeah. Title:Arrival in Auschwitz-Birkenau

Okay uh, when you arrived to Auschwitz, did you know you were in Auschwitz?

No, no. Nobody knew. Uh, like I say, we went off the train, they chased us off, they hollered, "Get off, get off!" and uh, they separated us. And uh, we marched in to the ca...uh, to Birkenau, which it was three miles from uh, the station, approximately three miles. And uh, we came there and we saw the sign on the front of the camp, "Arbeit macht das Leben ist," you know w...you know what I mean by that, uh...

Work makes good...

Life free.

Life free.

And uh, we were marched in and we were taken into a shower. And uh, after the shower we were shaved off completely, I mean completely. And put the tattoo on, one by one, I remember crying and as you see that was put in with a needle one at a time, you know.

The number on your arm reads 27356.

Right. And this stands for Jew.

The triangle.

The triangle stands for Jew. At the time there were a lot of uh, uh, gypsies and also Russians in the camp and uh, non-Jews were in the camp. So they wanted to have determined which are Jews. But uh, that's what I was told. I really don't know the reason why they put the triangle.

Do you remember when the doors to the train were opened and what did you see?

Well, to me it was like I'm going to be free again, because it was uh, horrible to be sitting in those trains. And didn't realize what was going on, it was just another preview of uh, running and the war is broken out again or whatever. We were too young to know.

You came out with your mother and your brother together from the cars. And were there dogs and...

Yes, this I remember, I'll never forget. Dogs like that, the German Shepherds. And uh, they made us stay in line, they were trained for that. If not, they were biting. And all through uh, my staying in Auschwitz I had the German Shepherds near my side because we had to march in line. And we had to sing it the way they wanted us whether we could or not.

What did you sing?

German songs. They made us repeat after them. That was only when we worked in Kanada. As I mentioned to you I worked in uh, Kanada. That was already uh, the best part of my stay in Auschwitz, because before that it was just horror.

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