Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sam Seltzer - November 29, 1982

Conditions in Klettendorf

Okay, so it was Kleper...


[pause] It was near Breslau in Germany.

Geppersdorf was near Breslau.

Klettendorf was. And Geppersdorf was my first, first camp. A...and the uh, second day, they were already giving you, they give you a uh, your own dish, your own spoon. And they uh, were selecting already to work. Everybody had different work. And I was there, I found uh, my brother-in-law there. One of my brother-in-laws which is now in Florida, he was there working as a tailor. See there--they were in before us. They went in uh, willingly because when the Germans first came in they said they're going to take people for six months and they're going to release them. And every time they'll, they'll take a different group, see? So they--so my brother-in-law was there already a few months, see? And so I was very happy to see him. And uh, so I knew right away that I'm going to have another protecting hand over me. And uh, then uh, I was a little happier than when I was uh, sad all this time. You know, I was--I could breathe a little bit more and easier. And he arranged that I could be in the same room as he was. And there was a uh, sixty people in one room with two bunks. And there was most of our hometown people in our room. And we got along very good. We--he, he explained, my brother-in-law explained to us everything, not to get in their way, stay out of their way and explained to us what to do, just mind your own business. You go to work, you do what you're asked for--asked to do and, and that's about all. So at, at this point we start going out to work. What we did there was working on the Autobahn. Autobahn is a major highway, see, to build. We built the Autobahn. I was put in with, with one of our hometown--with my brother Abi's boyfriend. He was a little older than I was, about fifteen years or, or twenty years older. And we were paired up to load up sand. We were paired up to load sand and uh, and--into the cars and then they took over to the place where they need sand for the Autobahn. They dumped it out and they brought it back. And we had to lay the uh, tracks first. And that's where I got my first beating from a guy who was a foreman, a German, ex-boxer. He was the foreman there. Because, they called it Mutterboden. Mutterboden was the black earth--black dirt, you know. You had to cut like grass, you had to cut that black dirt away, which they called Mutterboden and just load the sand. But how can you do that if the black dirt is mixed with the white sand, with the sand? Sometimes you can't, right? So they saw black dirt on our car, on our car where we were loading the sand off. Me and my friend. At that time I had blisters on my hands, very bad shape. That was my first you know uh, hard work, uh. So he--they took us into a, where they had lunch you know, they had, drank their, their coffee and lunch and so on. You know, it was also like a wooden shed. And they, they gave us some beatings. I remember the first time. They put my head under the uh, table and you had to be prepared for them. And that boxer gave us some beatings. What they used was, they called it Oxenzimmer. Oxenzimmer, that's testicles of a bull. They dried this out and that hurts. That hurts. And I remember the first three or four lashes I just, I just passed out. I, I couldn't take it anymore. And they kept you know, beating and beating until they were satisfied hitting my, my friend and me. So when we came home--home means to the barracks--we came back to the barracks, I told that my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law went and talked to the SA. He knew, he made some clothes for them and so forth. He talked to some of them and he even worked for this guy. His name was Augurek. And, and he talked to him himself. And he said, "Listen, this is my uh, brother-in-law and why don't you leave him alone. The kid, leave alone. He's only fifteen years old, what do you want from him?" You know. So finally we, he di...you know, he convinced them and that. And I didn't work for long at this uh, job. Luckily, you know. I was picked out for doing, for being the youngest, there was two, the youngest boys there. There was me and another boy. Uh, being the youngest we were picked out then to uh, survey the Autobahn, the sides you know, where it tapes down like that. Survey. And we were working at this and it was nice. It wasn't bad. The work wasn't too bad. You know, you had to hold the, they were measuring and, and you had to hold in it to run this way or that way. It wasn't too, too bad but that's how I--and after a few months later, that's how I got out. A...about six months, six to seven months I got out, and I was transferred to Brande. Brande was about ten miles away.

Can you spell that for me?

B-r-a-n-d-e. It was about ten miles away. They walked us over there to a different camp.

[interruption in interview]

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