Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sam Seltzer - November 29, 1982


The Buchenwald camp.

Yeah, yeah. Außenkommando Buchenwald. Closer to Buchenwald was a brick factory where people from, from Buchenwald worked in the, in the factory. Now while the front was coming up, the Russian and the, and, and the uh, American front was coming up. They were evacuating us ten days and ten nights, going in between the front into Buchenwald. See Thüringen, Buchenwald was in Thüringen. Like Michigan here, you see Thüringen. Buchenwald was uh, um, yeah, and--they walked us ten days and ten nights and our Kapo--we had a Kapo there--our Kapo, which I didn't use before, word Kapo. Kapo was uh, people, like a German, was a political prisoner or it was against the Nazis or something, they were Kapos, they made them Kapos see. He was a political, he had a red, a red...

A Russian?

No, a red triangle sewed in into the, the stripes. So did we, see? So uh, he was the Kapo and he went over.

[interruption in interview]

I gotta start over again.

Go ahead.

He went over into the SS and told 'em, "As soon as we come into Buchenwald, you guys will have to go to the front. You know, you have to turn around and fight on the front." They mostly were older men, see? They were not youngsters, but they were older men, see? So as soon as we come into Buchenwald you guys will have to turn around and fight the front. Some of 'em are going to get killed. He was a smart guy. He was a, a German Kapo, so. Otto was his name, Otto. The Kapo. So we went ten days and ten nights. We were--when it was raining we put blankets over us and we're walking like five, we were holding each other. Sometimes we passed by towns, cities and something like that. In one town I remember there were some people running after us and giving us, giving us something to drink, like pop or something with buckets. And they had, in the buckets they had bottles and they give us some pop or something. But they wouldn't allow that, see? Now they said, they told 'em not to, not to do it and they wouldn't let 'em do it. And one time there was a, a uh, bombing uh, you know, uh, uh, airplanes came down and while we were walking, during the day, and they were shooting at us and everything. And we were happy, so. At that time we disbursed and I ran into a, into a goat shed. There was goats in there and I packed up with a lot of carrots and stuff, whatever the goats were eating there. I looked up and uh, some of the um, uh, cabbage uh, inside something, uh. The hard part inside.


The stem from the cabbage. It was terrific, sweet. And uh, at that time we got, before we left the camp we got uh, they had sugar, so they gave everybody a little bag with sugar. They didn't have anything left anymore from, from that Außenkommando Buchenwald. So they gave us uh, bags of sugar and so what, dipping in the sugar the carrots was very good. Whatever we found we dipped n the sugar.

Did they tell you where they were taking you or you were just marching?

No, we're just marching. They didn't, they never told uh, tell anybody what--but the Kapo knew where we're going. We didn't know uh. So we went uh, there was a uh, a plane came down and start shooting and everything and I had a chance to run in there and I helped myself with the food from the goats. Instead the goats, I ate. And I tried to hide. That time I decided this is it. I'm not going into Buchenwald, I'm going to hide. And there was a big pile with uh, hay. I dug out some hay about, about in the middle. Not down on the, on the, but in the middle. And I, and I--then I covered up with each one, I covered up, covered up, covered myself up, see? And uh, all of a sudden the SS man comes in and he starts screaming, "Every...where's everybody, everybody out," and we got to go and this after the, the, uh...

Planes gone.

...the planes were gone. And he starts stabbing with the bayonet in the uh, in the hay and he hit me in the head here. I got a mark here. Right in the head with the--cut, cut through. And everybody was already out there. I--you know, the guys are already waiting to walk and I was still--I was late. I said, "This is it, I can't do it anymore." I had already pain in my, in my uh, my corners here, in my groin.

Groin, yeah.

My groin, I had pain and I, I, I couldn't walk anymore. I felt this was it. So when he hit me with the bayonet I didn't say nothing. But finally I said, "Well, if he does that again he's gonna hit me." So I said "No, I'm out--I, I'm here, I'm here, I'm here." And he happens to be a son of a bitch. Yeah. He was the--a, a tough one. So I, I said, "I'm going, I'm going, I'm here." And he, he said, "Well, wait until we come into Buchenwald, I'm going to report you." He says, "I'm going to report you." So I had bandaged my uh, head, by the time we came into Buchenwald I took it off. I didn't wait 'til it heals up. I took it off so you can't recognize me. And this way he didn't recognize me. As long as he didn't take my--and he didn't have any numbers, see? So he, I, I, he didn't recognize me, he didn't report me. And so I was glad. We came in twelve o'clock at night to Buchenwald. Midnight--twelve o'clock. Well, on the way, where we stopped in, we waited 'til another days go by and here we hear the guns. So on the way in that place where they had the uh, they were, the prisoners were making bricks was a big hole down deep, I don't know how many feet. Very, very deep. That's where they were digging the clay.


So uh, we tried to, when we come into Buchenwald we have to have something to trade. So they had the conveyor belt, it was leather. So five of us boys, we were new, knew each other. Five of us--we start cutting the conveyor. We cut a piece off and we took 'em with leather. The leather is going to give us food in Buchenwald. So we cut--is he bothering you? Why don't you go eat bAbi... So the, the conveyor belt was leather, good leather, like sole. Shoe, shoe sole leather. So we cut in pieces and I had it stuffed in right in back of me, and you know, tied up with, with a string. Next day, they line us up, everybody make lines and we separate and they searching. The, the man from the conveyor belt--from the factory, the, the German came and he said that we made sabotage, that somebody cut the belt, the conveyor belt. It was a big thing for them. They searched everybody. I had it on me. One of the uh, uh, Jewish Kapos was searching me and he going up and down and he couldn't find anything on me. I had it on me. The other boys threw away into the, into the hole there, into that water...

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