Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Shlanger - March 4, 1983


What, what were the psychological, the attitudes of people in the barracks with you. Do you remember? Did you talk to anybody else?

One thing we had in mind, is how to get more food. We were constantly hungry and losing weight. Most of the prisoners did not survive more than ten weeks. They either died of uh, edema or pneumonia or they were sent to Auschwitz with the Musulmanns.

Who were the Musulmann?

Well, the Musulmann were the human skeletons. That was the cynical name for the human skeletons, Musulmann.

Those who'd given up?

They didn't have enough strength to do any physical labors or they were useless and the German physician, by the name Mengele, use to come and conduct selections to pick out the Musulmanns and send them to Auschwitz-Birkenau for extermination.

Were you involved in any of those selections?


Did he just walk through the barracks?

No, we had to stay in Appell and he walked down and he was picking out the people that looked like human skeletons. There was no use for them, for the Germans anymore. And they were always able to replenish the lost labor force by the newly arrived prisoners from Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Was there any talk of escape?

There was no possibility of escape but there were escapes, yes. It never entered in my mind because uh, the probability of uh, survival in an escape was practically null.

Do you remember any attempted escapes that failed?

Yes. There were hangings.

Did you witness the hanging? Witnessed the hanging. Those that tried to escape and were caught, they were hanged. But some Russian prisoners, they escaped and they were never caught.

What about resistance? Did anybody talk about resistance?

Not at Jaworzno. There was no resistance whatsoever.

In Auschwitz?

I didn't stay long enough in Auschwitz to find out whether there was resistance or not.

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