Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Muschkies Webber - February 2, 1987


What were the circumstances under which you were sick?

Oh, I uh, I became sick and I was sent to the hospital. And once you get into a hospital you know that's the end because whenever there is a, the crematorium being used the hospitals are always cleared out. I mean that was part of the routine almost, and there was a measle epidemic, was quite a few of us that got the measles in Auschwitz. I guess because of no medication, food or whatever you were supposed to get when you have the measles, I also got the pneumonia on top of it, but in spite of it there was supposed to be a selection in the hospital that particular day. And I had pneumonia, my spots barely were starting to go away, but my temperature had dropped that day. So the head nurse used it as an excuse that I am already well, because my temperature had gone down a little and sent me out of the hospital and sent me back to the regular block.

Was this a prisoner?


Was this a prisoner?

This was a prisoner. She was, yes, the head nurse of the hospital. Now when I walked into that barrack and the people saw me the way I came out of the hospital, first of all, I had lost my voice, in fact I did not regain my voice until some time after the war. I was hoarse. I had lost a tremendous amount of weight, I was full of spots still and I just, as I'm told, I was green and nobody gave me much of a chance to survive, let alone just being shot but to survive to live. But I did.

Then what happened?

Then what happened? Then there was a selection in the block for another disease that was going around in the camp. Some kind of a uh, eczema or, in Auschwitz they called it ??? It was little pimples that you got on the arms and under the arms, and because I had spots, they assumed that's the disease I have. So they had another block for that. They were very well organized, the Germans at the time. Auschwitz was running like a clock. They had a block for everything. They had a hospital, they had a block for the people that had this skin disease, they had obviously, already at that time, a children's block. I wasn't in it yet, but they did have it. They had a block with Russian families with women that were expecting babies that had babies in Auschwitz...that actually delivered babies in Auschwitz. I mean they had everything when I was there.

Did you know about them?

Well, I had seen them later because I was liberated and we were for almost ten days to two weeks in all by ourselves so we got to see all these people later. Anyways, we went to that ??? block, as they called it, and naturally my mother wouldn't let me go by myself, so she came along with me. And uh,, they gave you some kind of medication salve to put on it and instead of my spots getting better, they were getting infected and was getting worse and I had a terrible infection under one arm and I couldn't pass the inspection to get out which was taking place every two, three days. After a while we found a little trick where I put the blouse over my shoulder so I didn't have to pick this shoulder up and the infection was hidden and they looked here and the measle spots went away so they let us out and we went again to the showers. We were marched to the showers. And there all the people that were in charge, which was the Canadans and so forth were, just couldn't believe that a child still was alive in Auschwitz. And at that time I was the only child there.

I forgot to ask you, were you tattooed?

Oh sure, I have a tattoo. I have a number: 60989. I wasn't Ruth. I was a number. And because of that number a lot of people thought I was very fortunate. I got a number in Auschwitz. In other words, I was accepted, at least I will be counted. I don't know to do what. I guess their plan was for me to be in the children's block to do what they feel fit to do with us.

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