Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Josef Slaim - February 7, 1982

Life in Buchenwald

From over there it was not long. We was there a couple months. There was coming an order. As a matter of fact, I'm going back. Buchenwald--the food was cleaner. And it was on time--at least in our sick barrack, we got the food on time, and it was cleaner. Enough is no question, never was enough. Now an order come, that they gonna start evacuate Buchenwald, that the Russian are close. They start a call to ??? to every room that everybody, special Jews has to come assemble in this and this place, and the other people has to come in another place. So we figured, if they called just the Jews in an extra place, that's nothing--that's not a good sign. They're probably gonna liquidate us before. And that probably was their mind, but nobody showed up. So what they did, in one 'o'clock in the night another loud speaker come--in every room there was loud speakers, that in the morning we should assemble--the whole camp should assemble before the barracks and we gonna be handed over to the Russian. The Russians here and they're gonna--they don't want that us--that's gonna be a whole mess, they're gonna make it uh, organized. So uh, that's what we did. In the morning we assembled. As soon we assemble--SS was hiding behind the barracks mit guns in hand and was coming in the front, and start telling all the Jews have to step out. I saw one Jew fall on an, on an SS man. He start fighting mit him uh, it was not uh, I mean logical it was not worth it. What could he do, I mean, one person, you know. So the next SS man shot him gave him right away uh, shot him right away on the place. Anyway, they brought us to a place, just the Jews--assemble place. One commander was coming--a higher--a high ranking official--officer was coming. He said, "Say, listen. We want you to know, tomorrow the Russian gonna come and take over the camp. We want give you over to them in an organized way. That's the good news what I have to tell you." Maybe he was right. We had to believe, we had to trust in this person, but looks like the other SS wasn't going for this. They want to kill us before they want to turn over us to the other. So in meantime, they changed their thinks. They wanted us to liquidate. In the camp, Buchenwald was a political camp. As a matter of fact a single SS man was always afraid to come in, in the camp. He would never go out alive. They--he would killed between the uh, from the uh, prisoners. The other prisoners-- it was like I mention it, 70,000 people found out about this--they wanted us liquidated. So there they could call to ??? through the microphone uh, through the microphone from the uh, not the microphone, from the loud speakers to the SS and told them--they warned them if they're gonna liquidate the Jews, they're gonna make uh, a revolution in the, in the camp. They gonna kill all the SS what they gonna get. Somehow--I don't know if it makes them a little bit worried or not, or whatever it is. Anyway, they start beginning a Totenmarsch. Start taking us out.

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