Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Josef Slaim - February 7, 1982

Life in Gross-Rosen

In the morning uh, in uh, around twelve o clock in the night--this was from the whole day food. Was coming an order uh, they brought uh, a kettle mit soup, and everybody should get a cup of soup. They hadn't got enough plates--I mean, cups--they got about five, six cups. So they said, "First, whoever finished is gonna hand over their cup to another one." What's happened, they did so but every fourth, five--fifth start to get the soup, they find them something over his face. They said, "Look at your cup, you had already your soup." He start saying, "The soup--somebody give me this here, the soup. The, the guy before me had the soup." Why di...did--they threw away a little bit soup. So every fifth or sixth person ??? So happened to me. I got once over my head--I could see higher and I was afraid already to go to this for more soup, so I just managed mit my brothers. They gave me a little soup from theirs. Anyway that's a long story. We did nothing--any work in the camp. In the morning, five o'clock, the guard was coming in and he was standing behind the ent...from the entrance--the oth...the other way from the entrance. And when the whistle uh, start whistling five o'clock in the morning they start screaming, "Everybody should go to assemble in the line." And they start right away beating--going faster and faster. The same story; there was just one piece of wood. You couldn't go faster. How many people could go? So still lots of people fall into the ditch, I don't know how deep it was, if they took them out dead or alive, I don't know. When we came on this assembly place there was a mud place--was the winter time too, was a rainy day. And uh, ask them to assemble in a line and counted to 100. We stand five in the--to, to five in the width, and uh, hundred in the length, you know. And uh, kept us counting the whole day long, for twelve hours--'til five 'o'clock--we did nothing. We couldn't go to toilet. You couldn't ask a word. They don't give us any food. That you need urin...urinate, you had to do it in your pants the way you were standing. You couldn't even open your mouth. As a matter of fact, lots of people fall down, you should not even bend down to help them stand up. If he's dead, he's dead! This was terrible. I thought that this is already our finishing up. But just happened they had to eva...evacuate this camp, too, in a couple days. An order came there. In--after couple days we found out that they organized already a group from 100 people, they gonna send them to Buchenwald. I talked over mit my brother. I said, "Let's see if we can get in, in this group." That we managed to get in, in this group. Not officially registered, but we pushed us in, in the group. And we was luckily, and the transport was going the way I wanted. I wanted to get away from Gross-Rosen, because Gross-Rosen I saw was going to be uh, from there who knows when somebody gonna come out. We travelled--they loaded up us in the uh, cattle cars by train mit no roof. Winter time. They pressed us together in the, in the, in the cars. We was not sitting, was standing each next to the other one, like herring you pressed together, or potatoes. As a matter of fact from the cold--from the weather--cold weather, people died. They were standing, as a matter of fact, in the front of me. I talked to him and he don't answered. He was standing. As soon as we get a little uh, uh, start moving a little bit he fall down. They died standing--got frozen to death. Now we arrived to Weimar. When we arrived in Weimar was in early in the morning. We supposed to stay over there, from over there, were supposed to be transferred to Buchenwald. Standing on the, um...

[interruption in interview]

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