Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Agi Rubin - December 19, 1984

Conditions in Auschwitz

How long were you there at Auschwitz?

A year. Wait Auschwitz? We got there from April until January, 1945. But that's when our real trouble really started because Auschwitz was a picnic. We worked and we had a roof over our head, we could even cook on the side, I happen to... I'm not going to go into so many things.

What did you cook at Auschwitz? How and what would you cook at Auschwitz?

Well, I this particular I was found very guilty of, I had a friend that was a tramp, they were tramps and they were in this section that were experimented on. Right across the wires. And uh, I happened to have some, I don't know what the food was, probably bread or whatever, and I threw it over to him to give it to his sister and they should share it. I had more than they did, okay. We were the elite group and everybody envied us cause they were better off then somebody else, among the clothing and selection. And as I turned around, and I see he starts running away, I say okay, I see you tomorrow if I have something I'll be back and I turn around and there standing there is this Hauptscharführer, very tall man, with a little Kapo, a little Jewish Kapo, and I get a slap from left to right and this Hauptscharführer looks down at me like saying well, you poor soul, you have the guts to come up here, well if you have such guts, you don't deserve to be killed or whatever punished but the punishment was that I wasn't allowed to work inside, I was put to work in the garbage. The garbage we were able to find some kind of peel or grass, and over an asbestos little candle we were able to cook soup and I was able to take it into my lady. Hot food, so it was a very good job but it started raining and it was very difficult.

Were you sick at Auschwitz? Were you sick there?


You managed to stay healthy?

Yes, Auschwitz was, we were evacuated in January. Um, we were put on this infamous march that lasted from January til liberation, til April.

This would be a good place to stop, and we'll start again with the death march. OK. We'll take a little break.

Before we talk about the death march, let me take you back to Auschwitz and ask you a couple of questions about what you did while you were in the camp. Did anyone celebrate holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur?

Uh, not because when we were aware of it, yes, it was a solemn remembrance but there was no real celebrating it, it was just again talking how it was, how we celebrated when we were home. Or, just reminisce, yes. But some people, that were not a jubilee, not about the prayers at that time, they had so called services, in the barracks but it wasn't the festivity or just more reminiscing than celebrating it.

What did you reminisce about?

Just about good times, how we used to play, we used to talk about the teachers, the fun we made of the teacher and how we skipped school to go to see a show, that was once and we weren't caught, and um talked about the games what we would play, like I had a favorite one uh, we played with walnuts, the heavier it was the better chance you had to get the rest of the nuts, it was like bowling, you had to hit it over the head to get all of it, and I was a little girl and the big boys would play with me if I brought the nice walnuts so, my mother would say, I can't supply you with all that nuts, what are you doing with them? I said, maybe next time, I'll go back, I'll win it back for her, I never did and they used to play with me because I just let... I mean this was little funs and I remember it and I, here I always see there are nuts at home.

You said that the adopted mother would talk to you about food that she was going to make after the liberation, did you talk a lot what would happen after this was over?

How we would re-establish? No, we had no idea about how, we only talked about home. Home meant that you will go home and you will find everything the way it was before, I guess, the hope ... just the wishful thinking. But we didn't know as far as how, no, it was no imagination how, just things would turn better. Yes, we did talk about it that if we ever get out of this, and if ever will have or sit down to a table for a meal, there will always be a round bread in the middle of the table to represent our well being, that we have ample of bread and that will be the centerpiece, a big round bread. That was a very focal point to talk about. That and even up today, if I have to throw out that piece of dry bread, I kiss it and then I throw it out. I have no heart to throw it in the garbage disposal. I wrap it in a napkin, kiss it and then I put it in. It's something that stays with you. And I have a friend that comes helps me with my housekeeping, sometimes an older lady, and she goes berserk to throw out a piece of bread. We have to make breadcrumbs out of it, if it's still savable, and it's just something that stays with you. We, to keep our sanity, we sang a lot, uh there were a lot of stories told, and we tried to laugh off as much as possible. We call it in Hungarian, the hangman's humor, you know when you are being hung, then you have the last wish and up to the last minute you just die laughing. You couldn't always laugh, but that was part of the strength that carried us on.

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