Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lola Taubman - December 22, 2009

Daily Life in Auschwitz

Do you remember a, a routine? Was there a routine day in the Auschwitz?

Yes, yes...

Could you call it a routine?

...yes. They woke us up. We had to go to, to bed like nine o'clock and they woke us up at two or three for Zählappell...


...standing in line.

How, how long would that last?

Until it got light. From two in the morning until about six, seven. And, and people couldn't stand anymore, so we were pinching each other to have red cheeks. And there were mothers and daughters there--quite a few mothers from Svalava.

And what would happen if somebody had to relieve themselves [pause] right there?

We didn't even think about. We didn't, didn't drink that much. And the coffee was awful and the soup was made of potato peelings, how they put so much--what was that? A uh, not a spice, an herb that made the soup so bitter. Pasternak. Pasternak is, is a, is a root, a root vegetable. And if you use a little it's ok, but if you use a lot it's bitter. So we had--the routine was...

One of the survivors is named Pasternak.

The Pasternak?

Abe Pasternak, do you know him?

There was a person in, in Detroit that was named Pasternak.

Abe Pasternak, right.

Was he Romanian?

He's from Transylvania.

Yeah, right, right. I remember hearing the name. I think I met him earlier when we were still lived in Detroit because we lived in, in Florida for thirty-five years.

And you came to Detroit?

But we didn't go there to retire, my husband moved his business there.

I see. So we were talking about the routine. So, you...

Yeah, routine. So we got up and when the Z ählappell ended we stood in line to get a piece of bread and a, and a cup of coffee--the chicory. And then we went to work and worked. There was no lunch time as I recall, nothing. You just worked through until six o'clock. At six o'clock you got a bowl of soup. Only one piece of bread a day. I mean, it was chalky. And when I arrived to Auschwitz, to A Lager, they gave me the piece of bread, I put under my pillow and when I woke up the bread was gone. Somebody stole it. That was...

You had a pillow?

...that was my impression of Auschwitz.

You had a pillow?

No pillow, no pillow. It was like a, a straw, a straw matt...mattress. And, uh...

And did, and did you sleep on the cup? Did you sleep on the cup as a...

Yeah, but it was a little higher.


And, and, and I didn't even know--excuse me, but I was holding myself back from relieving myself and I was so tired that I just, I went number one. And I just from the heat the, the whatever dress I had just dried and our, our entertainment after work was to get our dress off and kill the lice.

How did you kill the lice? With your fingers.



Yeah. They were usually in the seams.

They were everywhere, right?


Daughter: My mother was obsessed with cleaning hairbrushes when we were little.

When we--in the other camp we washed our dress and hung it and then slept just in panties and whatever we could, we could find--clothing. If it fit we put it on, but not the outer. Just some, some women came with knitted panties to keep warm. And when we got coats it's from the, the clothing that people brought. And they wouldn't let us wear long coats, we had to cut it off, just a short jacket. They didn't forgive us to be warm.

When you went on a death march it was January, right.


So what did you wear?

A jacket and a dress. A dress, it's like, it's the material that they use for, for ropes, and uh, I don't even know. I had a man's shoe--I arrived in man's shoe to Prague--a size forty-two men's shoe--not lined. And I had socks where we were taken in open, open wagon...

Open car.

...from, from Ravensbrück to Malchow. My feet were so cold I took the sock off, it was sort of a rod and I put it there to dry. The wind blew it away so I had no more socks.

Did you get frostbite?

Yes. I have two toes that are frostbitten. They didn't give me trouble until now. Now it swells up and I ca...see what shoes I can wear? Among other things that, that is bad. Bad toes. I have varicose veins and I have spider veins and swelling, all kinds of things.

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