Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Job in Camp

And I used to have a wall with seventy holes, fire used to come out over my head and over my face. And I used to take this fifty-five kilo pieces shell and I used to hit it straight in the holes so the, the Polack was standing with a big glass--blue glass with a leather apron, with a leather helmet, you know, and he used to, and he used to pull out those, those uh, that had to burn the hat. And he used to heat it up, and when he pulled out, I had to, I had to replace it right away. And they were one hole next to the other one. And if you missed it when you knocked out the brick, you getted a bigger flame. And I had a--such a--because I was short, sometime the size got something to do with it, and I used to take it in my arm here and I used to shoot it in and he pulled out one, I shoot it in the other one, he pulled out one. And that, they were heating for ten, fifteen minutes, I--that's what I had to rest. But when he replaced it, I had to shoot it one next to another. When they used to bring in big guys, six feet tall, they fell with it, because they couldn't--they didn't have this--you had to have the experience. And the fire with the fifty-five kilometer, that's uh, it's over a hundred pounds or more, hundred and ten.

That's as much as you weighed.

Yeah. And I, and I used to shoot it. And they said, "Why can't he do it, you do?" Oh, I stayed already six months on this job. And then, and then I had to--when they pull it out there was a press, and they had a big mouth and we had the squeech on a little bottle like this. So we used to have a tong. We used to put it in and when you open this, this tong, that holds it. And we used to drag it on a railroad track and the railroad track had holes. And then it had a little tail in that fellow. And you couldn't--because that fire, you, you, you--when you get it, you had to run it, always on the run. And you had to hit it. And when that bounce back, it fell in. You had to have the, the, the, the experience. And the fellow, we had to set up about a dozen of them. It was hot. Like uh, we used to call the Hanukkah licht. It was burning hot. You couldn't stay close. When you stay close, it close--it could catch fire or you drinking, I was drinking so much and the salt would start coming out into my shirt. I never shaved, I never took a haircut because I got burned up by that, by this fire all the time.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn