Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sally Tuchklaper - March 2, 1983

Life in Auschwitz

Can you describe what you saw around you when you first arrived?

We saw, which was very frightening, the barbed wires around the camp, that went in you could never get out. When they took us in and assigned to, to the barracks even the attendants in the bar...in the barracks weren't so [pause] but describe you--to be so cheerful with us, to, to help us out. They are rushing us in. We have to run inside in to lay down and to sit at the barracks, you know, was up and down the, the bunk beds, which is was from one, one corner to the other we're laying next to each other, five, six people in one bed. That's how we stayed there 'til they called us again outside to count. We get--we're not assigned to special uh, shops down there but we're going one day to carry bricks and one day we carry stones and one day we cleaned up uh, the streets down there ??? one day we cleaned up other things. We used to go in the morning to some--whatever they wanted us, you know, to do. There was not special particular work down there to be able to do it. We used to come in at five o'clock in the morning, take out, go into the field and just work.

Can you describe the guards that you came in contact with at Auschwitz?

Terrible. First of all they took away everything. The day we came in, we had to go through the showers. We went in on this side, we got undressed, we came out on the other side, we never saw no, no clothes or towels no more. But just we got a robe to put on and a pair of, of shoes--wooden shoes. We never saw anything. Whatever we had in our possession, we would never see this no more. And that's all we had. They gave us a robe and shoes and that's all and went to the barracks.

How did these guards treat you?

Terrible. Like we were not human beings.

Were you...

Run, run, run, run fast, fast. If you didn't go that fast, you had already uh, a beating on the back of you. We had to do whatever we were told to do.

Were you yourself beaten at this camp?

Yes, the first day I came in. For no reason at all because I didn't go too fast. I was slapped in my face and knocked out three teeth right away. The first day.

Were you still in contact with your one sister?

Yes, with my younger sister, yeah. We arrived one day, the next day we went through a line right away they gave us the numbers. So, this is uh, right away the second day we came in because they never called us by name just by numbers. So takes a day, too, we stayed in the lines 'til everything--went back to the barracks.

Was she in the same barrack as you?

Yeah. We were in the same--always together.

Did she work with you, also, when you were assigned to...


...the jobs?

It depends, it depends. Not all the time. Sometimes they could take ten, twenty people, sometimes ten people, sometimes uh, more. We never used to go all together. Just single cases they came in to take some people to do some work. There was no special assignments in, in Auschwitz.

Can you tell me something about the food that you received?

A piece of bread and a black plate of coffee--canteen of coffee in the morning. That's all. That's what we had to stay in the line for two hours. There came uh, [pause] a truck with uh, what do you call it? Went out in the barracks, stayed in the line and they walked over and they served us, you know, piece of bread and black coffee in the morning. Then that--no, I actually think we got fed twice a day, that's all. Then at night we got canteen of soup and a piece of bread again and that's all.

And what about illness at this particular camp?

Even if you were ill, you were afraid to go [pause] because you knew, if you're in Auschwitz, if you were gonna go in to the hospital, you never come back. So whoever was ill didn't even go. Tried to stay in on the bunk bed in, you know, you're just laying see what's gonna be.

Were you aware of any medical experiments that were being done?

Yes. We knew.

Can you tell me what you had heard?

It happens that I came in with uh, with my transport there were two pregnant women. And they experiment on one, on one. I don't think she ever had the baby. I don't know what happened; they took her away, you know, to the hospital. And I don't think we ever saw her. And then, in Auschwitz, they, you know, they castrated the men, some of them. They would--if they took you away in the morning and you didn't come back. They knew that something was--many people.

Did your brother ever arrive at Auschwitz?


How did you hear about his arrival?

You know we used to go out to work and we used to pass some men working some and we used to ask. If somebody came in here, if someone did you hear about this, about that? We were calling names. We're calling--and we called, "Did anybody came from Radom? Did anybody came from Radom?" And we used to recognize some, you know, friends where there so many working we'd ask, "Did you hear about it?" So that's why I found out that my brother was there.

Did you ever see him?

Yes. Yeah.

Did you ever get any word about other members of your family?

Never heard anything. No, no.

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