Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Getting in Trouble

What happened?

What happened. Happened that when I was--had five days to work steady for him, so he took about thirty, thirty-five dollars and we were assigned to one soldier and he came and he picked us up with the truck and from the city to the railroad station--was about six or eight kilometer--and he took us over to the railroad station. We um, had unloaded coal from the boxcars. And then from the army they used to come to this railroad station with requisitions, and we used to give to this--to the, to the soldiers the coal. We loaded--we load up their trucks with coal. Only it was cold in the winter and we need--coal you couldn't buy. Everything was rationed. Uh, how much coal we could get per week or per month and how much bread ???. So we tried to ask the soldier--he was a very nice fellow--we asked him if it's possible we can take some coal. He said, if it's impossible, he will go and ask the officer and that he will go ask. He never asked. And we went and we tried. And we were, we were saw with him that even if we took it he couldn't--he didn't say nothing because he alrea...we were already working with him a couple weeks, he didn't give us--he didn't have no hate for us at all. So we went and we start taking home big piece of coal, like a monument. And when we took off the burner, say, for instance, me--I had a family like my father and mother and sisters and brother--sister and brothers. I took home this piece of coal. Well some people went and start selling the coal and start to become a little market in the neighborhood. So right away they start to smell it out from where that comes. And it was some went and they squealed to the high official that those people where they unloading the boxcars' coal, they, they stealing the coal and they selling in the, in the Je...it was not a ghetto, and this town was not a ghetto--it was like Jewish uh, the Jewish people usually lived mostly together. So it happened that uh, that uh, this officer went to surprise us. He sent out the Gendarme and when we went back from work, they stopped our truck and they search our truck and we have coal. So the soldier found it out that today the, the officer is going to send out the lieutenant or the colonel who, who--he was is going to send out the Gendarme and he's going to stop us on the road and, and see if we have coal.

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