Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Making a Partnership in Camp

The Germans were--by this time you knew the difference between the different units. The people in uh, Skarżysko, they were Gestapo or they were the Wehrmacht?

They were, they were wearing uh, yellow--the, the green-yellow uniforms with the--maybe they were more engineers. More maybe--they were not SS troops. I think they were wearing red bands with the swastikas, you know. Or they were maybe engineers because ammunition you gotta have trades people, not just, just--and they, they--one time--I have to tell you this, I never will forget. It was a Jewish policeman and when we came to, to, to Buchenwald to Schlieben, he comes over to me he says, he says, "You look like you're a nice fellow to me." I said, "What do you see as so nice about me?" He says, ah, "You like to be friends with me?" I said, "Listen, naturally, you're Jewish, I'm Jewish." I said, "I mean, we bruders, naturally I'd like to be friends." He said, "Okay, let's be friends." Because everybody didn't, didn't got nothing to do with him, you know, like uh, like uh, they--how do you say? So anyway, I say I'm going to be friends with him. "You know, I'm going to tell you something, I have headaches in the morning." "So, what do you want?" He said, "Let's be partners." I said, "What kinda partner you want to be?" He said, "The slice of bread what we get tonight, let's share both the slice of bread. And one slice of bread let's save it for tomorrow morning." "And what?" "And then tomorrow morning we're going, we're going to share the other slice of bread." I said, "You know, one slice of bread is not enough, even for me. You want me to share this slice of bread?" So then I said, "Oh, I, I get headaches too in the morning." I say, "Okay, we become partners." Like we have a day from God--how long I'm going to live, I'll never forget. He trust me this piece of bread. One piece of bread we ate it up, and one piece of bread we shared--no--one we ate it, and one he, he save, he saved. And if a million dollar you would, you would not--you would think twice if you could trust me than that slice of bread. Slice of bread was more than--and I was lying all night with this slice of bread under my head. I didn't sleep all night because for, for two reasons. First of all--for one reason I was hungry and a piece of bread was under my head. And the second reason if somebody will find out that I have a slice of bread under my head, he will choke me to death and will steal this piece of bread. And I was lying all night and the night was so long that I was praying to God the bell should ring and the morning should come. Finally the morning came and I had a piece of bread and we--I opened up secretly and we shared this piece of bread. Here hundred of people walk around with the tongue out and here we two eating a piece of bread. "From where you got this piece of bread?" So I saw that they're observing me and everything. So I said to him, "No more partnership. You know what I went through last night? I didn't sleep all night. And I thought that I'm going be--somebody's going to choke me up and, and..." And if I will tell him this piece of bread got lost, he will kill me, he will kill me too. He will not believe it that, that somebody stole this piece of bread from me. So that was my partnership business.

[interruption in interview]

You know, when he was a policeman he could eat when he wanted. Or when he was already a prisoner like me, so he didn't get. So he got ahead and he was looking for somebody to be a partner, and everybody just walked away from him and didn't got nothing to do with him.

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