Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zwi Steiger - March 27, 1982

Life in Labor Camp II

You said there was a continuous obsession with food?

Yeah, because you were always hungry and there was no way to buy any food so you couldn't get--at the beginning you still could get some packages from home, but again the food from home you had to--there was no uh, methods of conserving uh, food like, like now, in cans, nothing. There were, but uh, it wasn't available. But the main thing that I remember from the--besides the, the hard labor was the viciousness of most of the Hungarian soldiers that were guarding us. And uh, the, most of the officers.

Can you describe any incidents of...

Incidents that what...

Elaborate on that?

...when, when you were getting uh, that you made from home, they would gather the mail and burn it, or destroy it. And especially in the last months, they were doing this. Or uh, they would uh, they would um, for some minor infraction they would hang out people by their uh, wrists, which is, I think uh, they--the Hungarians have done this for their own uh, army men too--that they tied 'em to a pole with their arms behind and the toes are barely touching the ground. And they used to, to give this way frequently--half an hour or an hour and uh, most people fainted from this. And they doused 'em up with some water and uh, it was cruelty by the Hungarian soldiers and there was no, no German uh, watching over these things. As I, I, I'm always cautious not to condemn all the Hungarians because they had some, some outstanding individuals, especially in higher positions that were um, during the war that I remember reading the papers that members of the parliament that uh, that were uh, continuously speaking out against the persecution of the Jews and uh, the treatment of the Jews. So this was uh, this was going on and, of course, degrading uh, experiences uh, that they uh, subjected you--the Hungarian soldiers. And this lasted 'til about uh, '44 for me--'til '44 in September when I--when uh, you remember? Romania suddenly switched sides and became an ally of the Russians and that front collapsed. The Germans retreated fast. And our camp was not--was in that area. We were in Transylvania at that time and we were trying to retreat from that uh, from our uh, working area--from the saw mill.

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