Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sam Seltzer - November 29, 1982

Working while Injured


So uh, they were carrying me a second time, they were carrying me to work and back. And finally I, I couldn't walk. I had to stay in the camp. So the Lagerführer, the Judenältester Abrahamchek came over and he says "Hamanula, you're not going to stay in the camp because they, they're going to come and take--send you to Auschwitz. You know what will happen." "You know," he says, "well, the other boys are sick, they're sick. But you are not sick, this is uh, your foot. So let the boys carry you out. Let the boys carry you to work. Go to work today." Sure enough, they came the same day, they came, they picked out all the people were in the sickrooms. And they picked them up and they sent them to Auschwitz. And the--they, boys were carrying me on their shoulders back and forth to work until my foot healed up. And finally when we finished this part of uh, uh, Autobahn, we went back to Brande. Back to Brande--it wasn't, it wasn't the camp as it was before. It was a transit camp. Transit camp. So I came back, I was looking for my old job, see? I went to the Lagerführer. I said, "Lagerführer, can I get my old job back?" And he says, "No, I have somebody else already, there is somebody else." And he wouldn't, he wouldn't talk to me much. So there was somebody there. And it was different already. It was SS already. It was a different. It wasn't the Brownshirts anymore. It was SS and there's one SS Führer with a, with a peg wood, foot--a peg foot. And he was one, one son of a, son of a...

Do you remember his name?

No. But everybody called him the peg one you know, the peg foot, the peg foot. And he--we were there for a while. And from there...

What did they have you do when you returned since you couldn't get your job back?

Well, we had to go out to work. In fact, I, I uh, had uh, pneumonia there. Also, laying in the, in the room on pneumonia and the boys came in and said uh, "Sam, you gotta get outta here." "How can I get out? I'm, I'm fever and everything. How can I get out?" He said uh, "You go with us to work. Because I, I understand they gonna come and, and clean up everybody. You can't be sick." So I remember going with fever, with pneumonia, sweating all over and weak and I walked to work. I went out to work. And I worked for the Firma ??? again. And uh, it, it's just like a dream. I, I, I don't remember what I did. I was just there at work, that's all I remember. And I, and I came back a few weeks, a couple, about couple weeks, that's about all. Then he uh, one day uh, on a Sunday, we had to stand outside, they call it Appell.

Roll call?

Yeah, Appell. And counting and they're count heads. And they called it uh, dust Appell. And that Sunday we were, I got up in the morning, and we worked so hard, I cleaned everything, I, I dust myself off and everything and uh, you know. I had that time, I was wearing a uh, army suit or army uh, uh, like a army uniform but it was black. And you know how that takes dust. And, and a, and a couple days before I was carrying cement. And I could never clean out that dust. So in the morning, that morning we had Appell on the jackets and we all have to line up. And he came with the whip and touched my jacket on top here and there was some dust coming out from the cement. And I, I cleaned it before. So he had uh, fifty lashes on my behind. I had to go line up, which other guys were there already. Line up to the washroom. Whoever had dust coming out of his clothes had fifty lashes on his behind. Now, the same afternoon, there was a pants Appell on, on the same thing. And he hit with the whip, he touched my pants and there was dust coming out and I had fifty lashes on my behind again. So in one day I had a hundred lashes on my behind with a whip. And one of the uh, foremen was giving the lashes and the SS man was stan...uh, S...the SS man was standing and watching it, see, in the washroom. So that was--when I came back into the barracks, I had to run out and get some water--a bucket water and that's how I sat all night, on a bucket of wa...cold water. And next, next day--well, that time we didn't go out to work anymore. It was a transit camp. And a few--in a couple of days they had a selection, right after that. We had a, they had a selection and they uh, came to look for strong boys. Came and look for boys, strong boys and I put my feet together when they looked at me you know, like a, like a soldier. And he says, "That's the boy I want, see?" They kept--they looked at strong boys, husky boys. So they picked me out and from there they send us to Klettendorf. In Klettendorf, we called that the Eisenlager. Klettendorf was called the Eisenlager. That was near Breslau. We carried steel over there. We carried--we had uh, a pillow made out of leather, stuffed up and put it on your shoulder and you had gloves, whoever had gloves was okay, who didn't, didn't. And we carried on there, like, take abo...like a dozen people carried long steel bars, it was full steel, heavy. And we load up like ten--twelve on your--on our shoulders and we used to carry all the way on to the railroad tracks, you know. And we carried that--I worked there for about uh, uh, couple of months on the Eisenlager. It was hard work, very hard. And um, there--finally they--there was a, a lotta, whole bunch of new people coming in. So they picked me out who--they asked who the mechanic--so I always volunteered as mechanic. I could do anything. So they needed mechanics and, and they picked me out as building the uh, barracks for the new people coming. We built fences first, then we build barracks. And we build up the barracks for uh, a lot of people. And uh, all of a sudden uh, one barrack had a lot of women. It was a different gate. It was uh, uh, with wire fence. And they were like on the other side and also fenced around, see? So it was the same camp, but...


...separate, yeah. And luckily I uh, when they ca...uh, we could see the women, we could talk to them by suppertime. At suppertime, from seven to nine, we could see 'em. So--and there were a few uh, young girls from our hometown, which I ran in, was Esther. She lives in, in uh, New York now. She married my cousin. And was Sarah, which she lived in, in South America now. Goodman. Married one of my boyfriends. And uh, those two girls. And there was more from my hometown people and I was so glad to see 'em. And by that time I was in bad shape. I, I wore out my shoes. They gave me some wooden shoes over there. And uh, my feet were uh, I used to go to work and, and put the sh...in, in bare feet. My shoes were--I, I put my shoes on, on my shoulder, carried on the shoulder. It was all, around fall time, it was cold. And we were working on the uh, uh, straightening out the uh, railroad tracks for a airport field, where the railroad tracks were going in there and the railroad tracks were sinking. And we had to prop up the uh, railroad tracks. So that's where I got another beating there. Because I looked at the German. I looked at him. I straightened out my back you know, I was working hard. I straightened out, to, to straighten out my back and so and I looked at him sharp and I don't know what I have, sharp eyes or whatever. It--he didn't like it and he ran to the SS man with the dog and they got me and, and took me into the shed and they--and got a, got a beating with a, one of those reeds, the uh, glo...the reeds out there, it's very hard you know, very--and I got another beating there. And imagine me standing bare feet and working. And we had special rocks to prop up the uh, railroad tracks. So from there I used to come home very tired. Pus on, on my ankles on each side. Four holes on both ankles with pus. I was beat that time. I was very, very low. I was very, working very hard and no, no food. See the work didn't bother me, but the food. We don't have food. So--and luckily when I talked to the girls and they came in--they worked for the Air Force outside the camp. And they ate there whatever they could. And sometime--so when they, when I came home from work, the girls put together a good couple of dishes of food for me. When I came in, down from work. They felt sorry for me. They uh, put together a few dishes of food and I ate it right there. And as soon they walked in, in their room I, I ate up and that's how I recuperate a little bit.

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