Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Josef Slaim - February 7, 1982

Duties in Camp

What were your duties generally in those first camps? What did you do there?

I was administrating the camp inside. I was-- if anybody in this--you mean in the previous camp?


In the previous camp, somebody was sick you had to call to somebody, you couldn't talk to a German, you to talk to me. I could to go to the Germans, say, "I got two people sick." I could take a little bit my own, my own risk. It was as a rule was allowed two percent sick people, of course if I had 100, 200 people, I could have--two percent, I would have four people. And if I had ten people sick, I had to manipulate--I couldn't even tell the Germans. I had to manipulate because we got day shift uh, morning shift and after...afternoon shift. So like in the morning, I had more people home and if an inspection was coming I could tell them uh, so much people is on the uh, on the project, and so much people is for the afternoon shift, so its slipping there. In the afternoon I could say this guys was uh, in the morning shift. So I manipulate so that two people--I could left ten people in the house, but if twenty would call, I couldn't do it. You just could do it so much. You know that's the thing, somebody uh, somebody hadn't got shoes ???, or somebody--you just couldn't make it today. I could--they had just one place they had to come to me. And I had to go to the office--I had to present it them to the office. And if they had something I need, from us I had to send out to the people to work. I had to know, in the office--I had an office, and had a secretary--had to mark down by this company was working thirty people, by this company was working twenty people. And uh, there was a rainy day, there was shorter hours, like six hours a day. These, these people worked like eight hours a day because these companies paid for the work. We don't--they didn't pay us. We didn't get the money but they had to pay to the uh, high offices uh, to the German, you know. So the--everything the books was going through me. I had arranged mit the Lagerführer that he bring in uh, food. I could tell him we have a short in potatoes, or whatever it is. I was the inside man, it like it uh, was a cook, a cook, you know. It was uh, a couple girls--it was uh, staff from girls was working-- taking care of cleaning in there, in, in the--in every room. Somebody had to be over there to give him the orders, otherwise nobody would try to hide and nobody would do it, and the things would be--they would go and take their German people to the uh, to watch us, and they would be worse, because they would go around mit the uh, whip in the hand, you know, mit the whip in the hand uh, beating up everybody, so that was a good things. Anyway, coming to Blechhammer in beginning 1944, the whole thing was already difference. It was already a concentration camp. Blechhammer was a couple thousand people already. On the project we used to work--I had--it was 70,000 people--I don't know exactly, but not all the people was coming from, just from our camp, it was a lots of camps around there, you know. But in our camp Blechhammer was like three thousand people--between two and three thousand people, the way I heard. It just happened in the office, the girl secretary, what worked in the Blechhammer in this office, used to work in my previous office there. So I was in contact mit her. I knew it a little bit more. And she helped me out once in a while, with a little bit food too because in Blechhammer I was nothing, I was just a plain foreman. Foreman means every Kapo had like ten groups. And every group had a foreman. The foreman could be over ten people. If you took ten people to work in a place here, make--dig a hole. So you had to make one responsible for these ten people. That they make these--so there was a foreman, but otherwise we got nothing--any privileges. The only thing, you didn't have to do it. Just asked them to do it. [long pause] No. In 1944, before the end of this camp--before the end of 1944, the Russians start getting closer to the border in Blechhammer. So the Germans wanted to evacuate the camp.

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