Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Conditions in Skarżysko

Let's, go, go into more detail of this. Uh, you said people were dying of starvation...

Starvation and beating too.

...what did, what did they give you to eat?

They give us--in the morning we got up we didn't get nothing. Maybe black coffee. Then uh, if, if I worked in daytime so they brought the soup in the, in the--to the factory. So what was the--I remember it was liquidy. It was, it was uh, uh, they took the, the--some potatoes with starch and they used to make a soup with the starch and the starch got--the starch falls down and water, and the water was liquid. Sometime they had beets--pickled beets. Uh, it was no meat, it was no, no potatoes or noodles or something, they forget about it. This was a liquidy soup. And then we came home, so it was a loaf of bread for thir...twelve or thirteen people. And if you think that a diamond cracker cracks diamonds exactly to the--only he, he doesn't crack as good as the guy what was cutting this bread. He was cutting to the precision. And everybody wanted two ends. So how many, how many ends of bread it's got. So he--so we divided like in a room. First we lived in Ekonomia--in a building called Ekonomia. And Ekonomia had little cages like when you saw in, in The Holocaust they showed you people little cages. We couldn't sit, we couldn't stand. Or you had to lay on your stomach or you could lay on your back. And everybody want to look around on the floor what's going on, and there was maybe about twelve, thirteen, fourteen uh, high. And everybody liked it around higher, higher, higher. And we were looking around down. So the person what they received the soup and he was a heavy smoker and he want to smoke, so he used to go around and selling the soup. So when the soup got cold, so was an expression ??? zup ??? lefl shtekn. The spoon still sticks in the soup, so thick the soup got. It was just potato starch, you know. So he sold the soup for a cigarette, or maybe for half a cigarette. Well this guy died. Or a piece of bread--and so he want a cigarette, so he didn't, he didn't eat. So he sold his piece of bread for a cigarette. And uh, ho...so the Ekonomia was so dirty, filthy. Where you slept one night you, you didn't sleep the other night. And when we were laying on this--in this cages and looking down. And if you had to go with the water, excuse me, and uh, when you're hungry, you cold you have to run. So when we came down and we had to stay in the line by the door and he only send out five at a time or three at a time to the toilet. Well 'til I made it to the door I already uh, made it in the pants, so I returned back and, and I couldn't find my place--somebody already lays on my place so I had to find another place. And even if I had a few rags--a shirt or a pants or something--sometime I couldn't find it. I set uh, laid it down--I figured I, I will return to the same place. I never returned to the same place.

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