Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Muschkies Webber - February 2, 1987

Arrival at Auschwitz


The people are around me. You know, I understood what they were saying, but I took it as a matter of fact, but I don't think that I really understood what they meant until I stayed in Auschwitz. And this constant, because we were in a camp that was on the railroad track, in other words, we saw the railroad, and the trains coming in, the wagons coming in, and seeing these people going in and not coming out again, I finally, came through to me what was happening. But when I arrived, I was scared as I was up to that point. I was always shivering, I was always afraid except when I had my fantasies, I don't remember anything that happened to me that I could be happy about really. Any experience...Happiness was when I saw my mother, when I had an extra piece of bread, obviously, that my mother gave up for me. Uh, when we came into Auschwitz after standing on the platform, we were allowed to sit down. Then, the next morning they decided to let us into camp and they decided to give us the...no the numbers came after...we were taken into a...we were led into a huge room where we had to undress...and I couldn't get over the fact where, here I am standing, that was the first time really where I stood among, I don't know if it was 100 or 200 or 400, there was quite a few women...women standing naked and men parading back and forth. And if you didn't move over fast enough, you would be hit. And these men were walking back and forth, and I looked at my mother and I didn't know how to ask...how you can stand in front of people walking? Because up to that point we, I didn't witness that. I didn't see that. We were completely undressed. The only thing we were allowed to keep was the shoes. And uh, we went through like a little pool where we had to immerse our shoes in, to disinfect them I guess, and our hair was shaved, and we were led into a huge room where some water came down. Squeezed in, there really wasn't any washing involved, and we were let out at the other end of the door, not the same door that we came in with, and we were thrown a dress, a dress or some kind of a garment. And we came out and for the first time in years I saw everybody laugh because they would look at each other...and I guess they all looked so co...the people were laughing and I couldn't understand why. The women were looking at each other and laughing, because they didn't recognize each other. They were laughing, because a tall woman would get a short dress, and a short woman would get a long dress. And some of them were torn. Then we were marched into the uh, camp that had a brick barracks. It was ??? It was the first part of Auschwitz that was built--Birkenau actually not Auschwitz--Auschwitz was the city, this was Birkenau. And uh, we stayed there for a short time. I don't know what I was doing there other then standing on appells all the time. I really cannot remember. Once there was an appell and Mengele was coming. And ??? there. She was a very nice woman. She would tell us when we should, she would try to let the children stay an hour or two longer in the barracks until the SS men came to make the counts, because sometimes you stood for two, three hours before the SS came to count. So she would be on the lookout and the children would be in the barracks and when the SS was coming closer she would call us out and we would be counted.

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