Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Jewish Commandant at Skarżysko

What do you mean the commandant?

The commandant, you see, the, the guy what was charge over the camp.

Was a Jew?

Was, was Jew, and was a--he was a Jew and he was a German. One was--the German was Kuhnemann. Uh, he had a help with a, with a dog. And uh, and, you know, they had a Jewish man Albirt--he was in charge over the camp and they had a whole uh, police station with Jewish policemans. And in, in--I notified uh, one from my hometown, I said, "Go into Albirt and ask him what should I do." Because I heard that you can have confidence with this Albirt. And he walked into this Albirt and told him, "Look, I got a, a fellow from my hometown and he's, and he's hiding out in the factory." And he looks in my name and take--pulls out he paper and I'm shot already--I'm dead.

They shot the people on the truck?

They took 'em away and they shot and they killed 'em. He said, "This guy is dead." He said, "No, this guy's alive." So he give me another number and he said, "Bring him over, I want to see him." I returned to the camp and I walked over to Albirt. And he say, "If you could do this..." He said ,"You gotta know the number and nobody knows you." And, and I, and I stayed in the camp. So why I bring this out, because I want to live. Some people didn't want to live. Because if they saw somebody's dead already, he say, "He's already over and I have to go through this." So I say "No, he's dead, he doesn't have no hope." Tomorrow happens a miracle--if, if the war is over he doesn't have no chance. Or in--me as a living, or if I will be--how long I got the bones, I will have the, the meat on me. And then I always said to everybody, it was a Jewish expression, "???"

What does that mean?

If you got the bones, so you will have the flesh on the bones. Or if they guy is dead, he's dead. So that what I bring it up for instance when I caught the typhus--I'm going back and forth--so I had maybe, I don't know what temperature goes in Europe but it goes in the nineties--I had so much temperatures that I went to work with the temperature because I knew if, if I have to go in hospital I will be dead. So one morning they're calling up so we had to have a roll call in front of the barrack and they saw that somebody is missing so they Jewish boys, what we called the Red Cross, and they walked in and they looking who's stays and they found me laying in, in bed and they said "What's wrong with you? Here people standing here waiting for you! What's wrong with you, why can't you get up?" and I said "I'm sick, I got high temperature." So they, they lifted me and brought me out and just for counting and then the people went to work...

[interruption in interview]

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