Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Nathan Roth - February 4, 1983

Transport to Auschwitz-Birkenau

Were you fed?

We had to, we had to uh, fend for ourselves. Uh, I was isolated immediately. Me and my sister were taken to where they called the Seven Barrack, number seven. We were supposed to be very dangerous. Uh, people to the regime, probably somebody uh, denounced us, somebody, but my sister and I were taken in isolated barrack, where we couldn't leave the barrack. Everybody else had the run of the whole place, which was a huge place. It was a big place, a big factory. I don't know five, six, seven acres, I don't know. But me and my sister were put in a barrack--it was number seven barrack. And the only thing we had was room for a blanket on a concrete floor just for one to lay down. And uh, we were given food one a day, once a day. But I remember this sick brother, once came. Oh, they were living. I did manage to get out one time and watch where my mother and the rest of them were. They were in a lean-to, near one of the, near the brick kilns and they brought some food with them of course. And, uh, I remember my mother; that was the last time I saw my mother. It was the last time. And about four hours later, my brother comes, the sick one, brings a bowl of soup and it was bread and it already soaked and boiled into it and uh, I picked up the bread--I'll never forget his look and the bread had uh, what do you call uh, mildew on it and I looked at and he looks at me and he gave me like a sheepish grin, you know, like that's all we have, I'll never forget that and I just went and ate it. You know, little did I know then that it was penicillin. So, I have never seen anybody after that. The next day I think we were, his barrack was put in, put on the train first. I have no idea whether the rest of the family was on the same train or on a later train, but this barrack was taken out first. My sister and I.

In another cattle car?

Another cattle train.

What do you remember about that trip?

Oh, I remember that one very well. Oh, I remember that one. I remember there was no room to breath. No room to take a leak. You had--there was a bucket some place, but you had to make your way to it. There was no way you could do it, unless you want to step over people. People didn't have room to lie down, standing up. But I was in a corner, me and my sister and I had a little pouch of tobacco and I had food. I don't remember where I got the food, but I had some food with me, but I hoarded it, we didn't need it. I didn't want to smoke, because I want to save it. I had a knife with me and I started digging on the floor, to make a hole to escape. And I told my sister "We're gonna go. I don't know where we are going. I don't like it. We're going." "Where are we going?" "I don't know, but we gotta get out of here."

Did you ever hear of Auschwitz?

No way, no, never heard of it.

You were going to dig through the floor?

I did, I dug through the floor. I took out a pretty big enough board and uh, it was right over the wheel, right over the wheel. In fact, for the rest of the night, until we arrived, I had uh, about three or feet square feet less space to...Because the way it was dug out I couldn't put the board back in. It would have no place to--my sitting place.

What did people do uh, for, uh...

There were dead people in the car already. I don't know how many, I know there were. Half a dozen or more dead people, old people who died. There was a five day, six day journey. Four or five, six I don't remember. It was night after night. And, uh...


...children, everybody, children, families together over there.

What did people do for a latrine?

Right under them, under themselves.

Where they were standing?

Yeah, yeah. I did it. I don't know why they were standing. It was just uh, packed--stench. I at least was fortunate, we were, there was a window right on top over there. Sometimes, I could get up over there and stick my nose through and see what, uh...

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