Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Adele Sandel - [n.d.]

Germans Request Forced Laborers

So, all of a sudden we hear--I don't even know in the whisper before the radio or they, they, they, I don't how--I don't remember how the amounts that uh, it was. I remember March 16th in 1942, all the girls from sixteen years or from eighteen years old--no, sixteen, I'm sorry--sixteen to thirty-two should report to the um, you know, to the, I don't know how to call those officers that the mayors is and, uh...

City hall?

City hall, right, to the city hall because they need young girls and young women to go to labor camps and camps and uh, uh, to fields and um, uh, farms because all the soldiers in Germany, the young boys are in the war, and there is nobody to pick the fruit and to, to do the, the field work, you know, so they came out with this theory that they needed the young girls to go and help.

Were there any young Jewish males between sixteen and thirty-two?


Yeah, males.

I'm coming to that. First was the girls--females. So that was already--nobody liked that. Which Jewish father and mother--the beautiful girls, the young girls, go who knows where? So, but you, you still couldn't do nothing that was such a Tisha B'av the city. Everybody was running like without hats. We were asking, "What is that rule," and, "why, what?" People felt there were very many rich people and they wanted to pay, you know, for, "No, not my daughter." They were lawyers and doctors. They had lots of money. "Not my daughter. My, my sunshine, my whatever, I have that only daughter. Not my daughter. She--I'm paying her off and, and she's not going." You pay there for somebody and they should go. No way.

Weren't your family uh, upper class?



My family was upper class.

So, didn't--did you father try to the same thing?

Wait a minute. I'm coming to this. Why do you think I'm sitting here? That was the biggest miracle there was in that city what happened that we are alive, both of us. My sister and me were saved because my father was a very smart man and he was a rich man and he wasn't a f...a frugal man--how do you call it? A stingy man.

Stingy, yeah.

And he really was very smart and he knew where to give money and where to pay and uh, and--but most of it was, was luck, believe me, it was luck.


So, all these girls--and they gave a day like, let's say, that happened March 16 and like, let's say, in March 18 everybody had to be there. They told you what to bring: a change--two pairs change of clothing and, I don't know, skirts and blouses and working shoes, and they made it so beautiful that end of the summer they will come back with beautiful experiences. We need them only for two-and-a-half, three months. So, I remember we had a neighbor she had an only daughter. She had two sons and a daughter and she came and she cried, "What are we going to do? We are giving up children." So, another neighbor said, "So what should do? First of all we don't know what to do and in the second place it's not so bad. They will come back in three months. It's not so bad." So, all the beautiful Jewish girls went and they made like forty, fifty um, in one bunch and they put them in like those cattle, uh...

Cars--those cattle cars.

Cars. And they went. Like you didn't hear about, I don't know what uh, astronaut they flew up yesterday? That's how we didn't hear about those girls and months went by--two months went by. Nobody heard. They didn't arrive, they didn't arrive. They didn't phone. They nothing. They just like disappeared. One nice day in about two months like after this happened with the girls came another law that the same thing boys from eighteen to thirty-five should come to the city hall because they need men and--to Germany and to Poland and all over and they--only for two, three months and they would be coming back.

Excuse me, I thought the boys--I thought the reason why they couldn't have the boys was because the boys were in the army, the soldiers, were in the army.

Not those boys. You have to understand. I forgot to tell you in the beginning that it was such a small country, this Czechoslovakia, and um, and, Hungary was so very close and Poland, too, it was like--what should I tell you? Like Ohio and Michigan, but much smaller even, you know, but there were like um, uh, adjoining like...


...very close to each other, but every country had different laws and different times when those things happened and this killings and persecution happened. Like, for example, in Hungary we were already having four years of trouble and they didn't even know--they didn't even believe what was going on. And, it was so close like from here to Pontiac. My grandparents lived in a small town. It was so close like Grand Rapids or Pontiac about 100, 150 miles, but it was then uh, borders, and that was Hungary and this was Czechoslovakia and we couldn't uh, it was like um, like a different world over there. We just writing letters. They wrote letters how beautiful the, the, the children graduated with how many honors and they were living their life and we already going to Auschwitz like we found out later, like and I can't tell you how it happened like we found out. Anyhow, these boys had to go in the same like the girls. There was absolutely no excuse. They all had to go.

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