Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sam Seltzer - November 29, 1982

SS Man

He was a older man. Sixty years old. Small, fine little man, which he used to--I knew him from other camps. He used to share his lunch with me. In Klettendorf he said that, "Why don't you come over to the gates on Sundays, you gonna polish my shoes like the others do. And get--I'll give you whatever I can." And he kept on asking me where I from and, and what, what I do. And you know, why am I--I said, "I'm Jewish." They wouldn't believe me, you know. A lot of, a lot of those SS men always asked me, "Are you a Jew?" I said, "Yes I am." So I used to carry his gun. Because it wasn't loaded. But he, he, he was a older man. A very fine man. He shared everything with me. So in nightshift, when it came nightshift, again I was hungry. And I was a young boy. So I used to tell him--I called him Herr Wachtmeister, "Herr Wachtmeister, are you hungry?" And he said, "Yes." So he gave me his rucksack, one of the nightshifts when I worked there. He gave me his rucksack, a rucksack is a bag, yeah. And he says, "Get me something to eat too." Now he knew I was a good worker. I did my work first. And then he let me know, he says, "You go." But I asked him that I have to go to the bathroom so. It was all outhouses out there so I had to find something. So I'll say, I'll find something, don't worry. When you come back, he says, "Don't run away. 'Cause you know what's going to happen to me." So I went and broke into the German kitchen where they were eating, the German. But at night there was nobody there. It was dark--pitch dark. I broke in through the window. I found some thermos with food. Thermos's you know, like uh, buckets, like, with...and there was mashed potatoes and sauerkraut and whatever they ate there and a little gravy, whatever it is. And when I came in, into the kitchen and I saw that. I opened up those things. When I, when I bent over went in with the, with my head and everything into the--it was you know, a little lower than a barrel and I bend in, I didn't come up anymore until I finished the, the bottom. So I ate it with the hand, with my hands everything from all three thermoses. Whatever it was left I ate it up. Then when I was leaving I saw a couple of barrels. Big barrel. It was, one with, with pickles, the other one I don't know what it was, was--maybe sauerkraut or something like that. But one of them was pickles and I didn't, how am I going to get in there, I gotta bring something to the Wachtmeister back. So I found something like a crowbar, something on that order, or what I did with my elbow or something, I broke in the barrel with the pickle, sour pickles. And I stuffed the rucksack up with sour pickles and I ate some that time too. And uh, I spend uh, almost all night under the uh, truck. Under the uh, boxcar loading thing because of the pickles. And I ate that much you know, I stuffed myself as much as I could. And my body couldn't take it. And I couldn't take it under my shirt or nothing. So--and I wouldn't leave it. So uh, I gave him some pickles and he loved that. He ate the pickles. And next day they came into the camp and they said, "Who worked at nightshift yesterday, who was in the kitchen? In the SS kitchen. Somebody broke into the SS kitchen. Who was that?" To come forward, not to worry about, we're not going to do anything. "Just come forward and say that you're, that you were the one who broke in the kitchen." So I didn't say nothing. I didn't say one word. But I was hoping and I kept my fingers crossed that the uh, Zeder doesn't say--we called him Zeder, the little guy, yeah, the SS man--that Zeder doesn't say nothing. So uh, he didn't say nothing. And when we got up to go to the nightshift again to work uh, I, I guess he wasn't there that day. Sometimes they switched SS you know, guards to different days and so forth. And then I was switched to another nightshift, a different time again. Those--sometimes the nightshift was from six to eleven and sometimes we worked like from noon to, to uh, ten o'clock or to eight o'clock, something like that. Different shifts, when they need it. See when, when the, when the train came in with the boxcar to unload, we used to unload gravel, sand, bricks, see, from the bricks unloading without gloves, my hands were all raw unloading those bricks all the time. And I used to pick up that many bricks. And uh, one night I'll never forget. It was raining and snowing and it was freezing after that. This--we had the worse SS man um, in the group. His name was Lapka. They called him Lapka. And he was a tall, skinny--mean, mean. It was raining and snowing. We were unloading uh, gravel and sand. There were six of us he took and watched us. Three on this side, three on this side. We were putting everything into the center, from the center one man was unloading down, down to the ground. He was in this little booth in the boxcar. You know, behind the boxcar there's a little booth, like.

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