Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Working on Road Details

When did you find out about...

That was--that already in 1941 we were already talking about. Then they said they're building concentration camps in Germany, Dachau, in Auschwitz, in Buchenwald, in those--but when that start coming out and we--still we couldn't believe it they will take fathers and mothers and, and children. All right, I'm eighteen years old, I'm able to go to work. My brother was twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two. We think, does we--we're going what we're going to suffer. Or that, only if they start hitting, beating, shooting without question, without nothing, without, uh, everyday, everyday, everyday on the run, on the run. I, I volunteered--when I volunteered I worked on the roads for a company called Straßenbahngesellschaft Ümler from Stuttgart. So I used to work on the roads. I used to put the asphalt on the roads. So we were a group and we used to went away for weeks.

When did that start?

That started 1940.

And did you get paid for doing that?

Yes. Just uh, not too, not for too long they paid us. Not for too long. Right away they cut off the pay. They give us, they give us uh, soup and we slept by the farmers and we left the house--we left the homes and uh, for the weekend we returned for clothes uh, for changing clothes and uh, only we were thinking it's not going to be like, like uh, like loss.

Did you volunteer to do that work?

No, I volun...I didn't volun...I volunteered because I covered the family. So I asked Edelman if he could give me a steady job. So that was a steady job to go over there. So I work on the roads and uh, put the asphalt down and uh, then in the wintertime we used to uh, heat the, the boxcars--the tanks, and we used to--the, the, the asphalt--the tar we used to melt it like liquidy. Then we used to have a--build barrels--big wooden barrels and we used to pour it in the asphalt in those barrels. And then the springtime the barrels got uh, how to say it--they, they, they....


It expanded the asphalt start running out. It was--I tell you, the tar was a terrible thing. We used to get drowned in it. We had to pick up by pails and when we walked in with our feet we couldn't pull out our feet from there.

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