Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Making Ammunition

These are unhappy memories aren't they?

In a way unhappy memories. In another way if God give me that I lived through this and if I can tell you what I went through--I'm not telling you even now one percent. The days--everyday what I went through in Skarżysko was, was in...indescribable. I mean, you can't, you can't--the, the, the jobs what I was working is if I start to tell you if I was working in this, in this--in, in Granaten uh, with, with this, with those--I--first I had to stay by a machine where they used to break square pieces of steel--fifty-five kilo a piece--and I used to grab 'em like, like, like bricks and stack 'em up in, in bricks. Then, I used...

By yourself.

By myself, just grab 'em.

A hundred and twenty pounds.

Grab 'em. They, they came out--that was, was a--the big long steel came and that guy was starting--he's in, in New York, Yumen Fogel--he used to stay with a torch and he used to burn the four corners and they--it measured out. And then when they pulled it in--it was a big--call it in Polish ???--that means bricks. A big machine with two knives--triangle knives what the one was pressured with water, and one with, with power, with air. And I got it with a handle and when this piece of steel was taken down close to the knives and then when he pulled the handle and this pressure, the water with air brought this piece and it came out through a, through a chute and I had to grab it and stick it up. Grab it and stick it up. All day I had to stay and, and, and, and grab 'em--fifty-five kilo a piece. And then they took it a or--hm--and then they put it in the oven. Then when the machine had to be repaired or something, sometime they take--took me to the oven, and when they put it in--this pieces still through this side um, went through fire--when came out was burning shells. So I had a big tong hanging on a chain and I had to grab this thing and it had uh, like a half a moon and I had to scrape it off this, this--the skin--this brick. And then that was in a--it went in, in a press. From four edges became eight edges. And that pressed on eight, then make a little hole, then went through another position. And that went through and got as long--maybe about, about fifteen, twenty inches long and then uh, not to tell you the procedures what we--what I went through. And I worked on every one. They, they put me on every one to work it. I was young--I tried, I didn't give up the hope. I was hoping that some days that uh, maybe the war will come to a end or--I, I always went to people--I always give hope to people. I told 'em that uh, everything's got a beginning and it got a end. So I remember, I used to work with a rabbi. He was from ???, the ??? rebbe. He used to carry those bottles of air for this guy with this welding. So he u...and he didn't have--should have a style how to roll this bottle. So he used to pull it. And uh, when I was eighteen, nineteen or twenty years old, and the rabbi was forty-five--already an old man--he was pulling--me and another fellow ???, we used to run out and we used to help the rabbi out, because we had respect for him--he's a rabbi and he's an older man too. We tried to help him out. And he always blessed us. He says, "God will help, you will see it. You will survive." I uh, I believe that uh, that his blessing maybe helped. I tried, I always tried. I'd never give it up. And I could die a lot of times.

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