Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Josef Slaim - February 7, 1982

Forced Labor

And uh, when the Judenrat got me, and I was--me and mein other brother, he's now uh, lives in Florida. And they took 150 youngsters away from the town and they sent us to a camp, which was called ??? in Germany. It was an Arbeits camp--a working place. To this time, of course, wasn't so bad. We didn't know--we don't even believe that's gonna be sometimes uh, we gonna have crematoriums, and burning or uh, gas or you gonna hang. It was just a working camp, but this was not for long. As soon they got us--the second week they start already build fence around the barracks. And it start getting a little worse and worse every day, but still was it a working camp; it was not a concentration camp.

Was your whole family taken there or...

No, no, no.

...this is just...

Me and one brother.

Alright now...

And three brothers would be still alive, but it just one--me and the other brother. That's it.

I see. Now the rest of the family was back in the ghetto, yes?

The rest of the family was still in the little town.

I see...

In Czepiec.

Do you remember who was in charge of the Judenrat there?

In Czepiec?


Well, here's another story. I remembered uh, the president from the Judenrat was Mendel Rothbart.


Rothbart. He was in charge. He was the president. But the way I heard--I didn't know, but I heard about it. It was Sosnowiec, a big city, and over there was the man by the name of um, uh, and he was named as the king of the Ju...for the Juden...uh, from the whole Dritten Reich. He was supposed to be like the, the uh, I forgot his name, name uh, anyway, but in luckily was Mendel Rothbart was president of the Judenrat in um, um Czepiec. He actually was a very nice man. So far when he asked for the 150 people--of course everybody--nobody wanted to go, he said, "Why did--why you want me or why you want me?" or uh, some parents, "Why didn't you take from this guy or this, this house?" He said, "I sent my first two sons to the first one in the line." He took his two first sons, he said, "Because I'm the president I don't want you to tell me, 'Yeah you're the president, you don't want to send your sons, you just want to send other sons.'" But he did it.

Hm. Describe the uh, what it was like in, in, in, in there--in the ghetto.

Uh, where I was in the camp?

Not the camp. This is before the camp in the ghetto, uh...

I was not in a ghetto.

You--as soon as you got there, the Judenrat sent you...

We went right away to Germany for work--for labor work--for labor. In uh, ??? we want--we were there for--I mean in Niederkirch ,we was over there for a year--almost a year and a half. Actually I left our town in the beginning 1940 to the camp. In 1941, uh--they always brought some transports to this camp that took out people, bring new transports. We didn't know where they go. They said they send them away to another camp, they need them there. With one of these transports--was one time a transport, from Sosnowiec alone--from Sosnowiec and Bedzin it's a name--near city--and there was professionals um, uh, watchmakers, that had to transport sixty people, watchmakers. They told them that they gonna be sent to German in a factory to work by watches, but instead they landed in our camp, as plain workers. So they cheated. So you can sue them if you want. And uh, one time a transport was coming, in the same transport my younger brother was coming--just happened. He was luckily too, because he came in the camp where I was there.

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