Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Working on the River

Anyway, I'm telling because of the free country I'm just telling uh, how it was that stupid, not thinking uh, how the--just they had labor, free labor. So we were doing things that--I remember in 1939 in the, in the winter was the ice was frozen--I'm jumping from one place to the other one. The ice was frozen and they didn't, and they didn't want it--the ice where they build up the bridge--they didn't want the ice. So we had to go out with the soldiers--they used to knock out holes and we used to dynamite those ice. I remember one time right across that when I was standing on a piece of ice and I, and I had to wait 'til he came over and he picked me up. He came with this uh, I don't know how to say--with a, with a little boat and, and he picked us up. And we were standing on ice and we used to go out uh, from the, from the land to, to the middle, middle in the river. And then we used to bore holes and then we--on the end of the board we used to light it up a--and we used to put it in and load up and here we standing on a piece--a chunk of ice. They, they came and they, they rescued us.

Did you know how to swim?

No, no swim--we know how to swim. On the wintertime they going in ice water.

So uh, how long did you work for his road crew?

For the Ümler, I used to work uh, from oh, about a year and a half or more. About a year, a year and a half. Then I worked the, the other odd jobs and the cleaning the--by the army, and then by the coal.

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