Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Nathan Roth - February 4, 1983

Labor in Jaworzno

Tell me about that.

Well, it was a, it was a kind of a isolated job. All I had to do is, is watch the pumps and uh, and I fell asleep once. Now, you got to remember at noon--we started work at 4:30 in the morning and at one o'clock the sirens sounded and everybody had to assemble in their own groups and groups marched off to the assembly line--assembly place.


Appellplatz, the work Appellplatz and over there everybody was counted and when everybody was accounted for ??? and the, the, the, the chain of guards were, were pulled in and then a small contingent was guarding the small area, but not until everybody was accounted for in each group where the others pulled in, so uh, one time I fell asleep. And the groups fell into place and they march up the--and they c...count them over there and one missing. So when one is missing, what they do, they make everybody fall out again into their own groups. That way, they know who is missing, so they count the groups and everybody group, everybody's group is counted. The one will have one part missing, they know where to look for it. I was the missing. I remember somebody came right back and just woke me up with a bang on my head and made me run back to the place and over there I was put into a, one of those where they give you, where they lash down--you down and uh, I don't how many, twenty, thirty, forty lashes and they put me for the next afternoon to walk, it is called the Strafkommando. Not that the other work wasn't hard enough, but this work was designed to--people couldn't last there for couple of hours. It consisted of unloading cement from railroad cars, taking a cement sack on your shoulder. You had to run with it for probably like 500 yards. Only running. You cannot slow down. During the whole course, there were SS and kapos hitting you. Nobody lasted more than two hours. It was just that, that terrible. You didn't have any stamina, you know, you were undernourished, you can't do that and uh, I did that, I don't know, I don't remember whether I did an hour or two, but finally, I was pulled off and my boss, a German civilian, his name was Sanders. He was an engineer, a German engineer who was in charge of this particular pumping station and other equipment. I don't know, until that moment, I didn't even know he cared that much. I didn't know that. He was very nice. He was always civilized and I remember how he looks like, exactly, drawn face with this German type of a head and you talk about blue jeans, you know, the, the, the, the denim that they make blue jeans. He had a jacket like that, then and apparently he, he was standing over there, he says, "Zurück. Go back to your place." I was half dead then. If he would have taken me away, then I would have never come back.

You think he saved your life?

Yes, he did, no question about it. Absolutely. But he said, "zurück" and it didn't take, you know, even if I couldn't, in other words, he told me, "You gotta make it back over there if you are going to the hospital." Which I knew. So back I went and I didn't see him the rest of that day. I m...managed to get back to the camp that night in the march and the next day he brought me...for the next few days, a slice of bread that had, I don't know what, might have had margarine on it or not, but it had almost a quarter inch of sugar. So next two, three days. So...

So he allowed you to recover.

Recover, yeah recover.

A few days...

Yeah. Yep.

So this is an I...I. G. Farben employee?

I don't know. He must have been. I don't know if he was an I. G. Farben employee or he was a sub-contractor, I don't know. His name was Sanders.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn