Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Mrs. Roemerfeld - 1982?


How many months was that after you had originally arrived to the camp? A long...

Oh it must have been within eight months uh, from the time that I arrived from home. And uh, I start working in Kanada. Also, meanwhile I've seen one of my cousin which lives now in New York, which maybe shouldn't be on the record, but for your information I've got to tell you that. Uh, she saw me walking and she already worked in the Kanada because she was never sent to Budy. And uh, I asked her, I says, "Could you help me Sarah." And she says, "Well so many die, so you may as well die too." But uh, I have to clear that for you uh, not that I ha...hold a grudge against her, because it was a matter of survival. And uh, she was in much better shape because she was in Block 21 and she had uh, the means of helping me a little bit, encouragement at least. But it was a matter of survival and uh, I do not hold any grudge against anybody, but I will never forget it. So many die, so you will die. And that was a cousin of mine. So it uh, it was the circumstances must have made people be the way they were. But uh, soon enough I was uh, transferred into Block 21 and start working in the Kanada. And uh, it, it was horrible because the first day that I started working there and I found my mother's babushka, which it was red and black. A knitted scarf between the clothes what came back from the gas chamber. And we had to sort it and I found it. [pause, crying] And uh, from then I realized that this is a place that I've gotta do the work what they want me to do. And uh, as we worked there awhile, naturally, we got educated to the point that we knew that uh, this is the thing that we're not going to survive and uh, we're not going to make it so uh, uh, we just might as well take one day at a time. And uh, there were some men working in a place carrying clothes--bags from one barrack to the next. And Kanada's Kommando was working near the city of Auschwitz.

It was outside the camp.

Outside the camp. It was approximately two miles away from Birkenau. And uh, we've seen uh, while we were working on the outside sometimes uh, uh, sorting that clothes coming back from the transports from the train uh, all kind of transports from Belgium, from Greece, from all over the world. Um, we've seen a group of women walking outside the fence and they were just like skeleton. Later we found out they were for uh, uh, testing or giving blood for the soldiers on the front, for the German soldiers. And later on we found out that they were sterilized for life. They could never bear any children--which it--at the time it didn't matter. But they looked like skeletons. Uh, as a matter of fact, after the war one of uh, the girls in a--from our hometown, she lives in Israel now, she's sterile. She was one of them that survived, that made it. But everyday's work there were just as unpleasant as anything I can think of, except we did not get as much beating as we gotten in Budy or anywhere else. And uh, one day uh, uh, two Germans came in and they picked me out I should cook for them, of all things. So I start cooking for them, the big officers. So they taught me how to cook--I didn't know how to cook. And they called me Helena. They didn't like ???. And uh, I worked there and uh, I seen other people taking things, but I didn't realize the value of gold or silver or, or...

You mean in Kanada.

In Kanada. That was at work, that was not in Birkenau. That was on the job. And uh, they were taking things into the Stubowas, what you call, you know, the ones that took care of the barracks during the day so they treat them right, you know. But I wasn't bright enough to do that. I didn't know what was going on. And uh, after awhile I came to my senses and I used to take in a bar of soap or anything I could find that I didn't know the value of it to give to the Stubowa so she won't hurt me when I go into the door. Because those were Jewish girls, mind you. Those weren't not Germans, that had to be uh, paid off in order to be treated right.

Those were Poles that had been there before you?

Uh, those were uh, the girls who were there before me. The first were from Czechoslovakia. They were the first uh, and, and Hungary. Those were the first that came there. And don't get me wrong. Not all Hungarians or not all Czechoslovakian were mean, because I have some good friends.

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