Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zwi Steiger - March 27, 1982

Life in Labor Camp

And, and you were shipped out somewhere?

I--everything was, you know, you have to go to a certain town. And there you were esta...you were put into a battalion or into a regiment and from there you were shipped again to somewhere else. And eventually we settled in uh, in uh, it was the Austrian border at first where we were building an airport. And we stayed there for uh, approximately six months. And then I think the area became impossible to uh, to work at because of the American airplanes that were flying over. It was probably a gathering uh, point--orientation point in the air. It was over the lake of uh, a certain point of Balaton--over the lake of Balaton. And there were continuous air raids. They were not bombing that area but uh, I think they gave up the idea of building that airport and they were shipped out to Transylvania to a, to a sawmill to, to uh, work there in the summer for prefabricated uh, houses. Our unit--we were saved from going to the Eastern Front for some odd reason probably, because the, the commander of that uh, unit--the Hungarian uh, I think it was a captain or a, or a, major. I think he had some Poland--he didn't want to go. He was reluctant to go to the Eastern Front, so he tried to do everything possible to keep us in Hungary itself and...

How many people were involved in your unit?

In our unit, about a hundred, hundred ten people.

And were there other people from Velký Berezný that you knew?

There were...

Or you can't remember?

No, no. They were all my age, maybe a year older some of them. And we were being guarded by Hungarian soldiers. And they ran our life.

It was forced labor.

It was forced labor. The conditions were--for awhile they were tolerable. You had a--for awhile we were living underground and uh, in places that were dug out in the ground and uh, bunks put up there, I mean, wooden uh, what do you call? Beds, or bunks.

Yeah, bunk beds.

Bunk beds. One, it was all together it wasn't--there was no separation. Three or four level--three levels I think for awhile. But, uh....

How often were you fed?

We were fed uh, we were fed probably three times a day initially because we--I think we were producing--we were working, we were working hard on the, on the, on the building of the airport. And uh, I think probably most pe...

[interruption in interview]

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