Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Muschkies Webber - February 2, 1987

The Kinderblock

How many children were in your block?

I really don't know. Maybe 100, maybe 150.

Where there any adults in this block?

No. The block that I was in, it was just children. After I was separated from my mother.

How did they separate the children?

They just walked in and they said all children step forward and we'll take them to the children's block. They'll be better fed there, they'll be taken care of and the parents, the mother will have a chance to sleep so she can work better. And they took us away. And that was that. Now in the children's block they had a very nice way of doing things. They didn't force you to do anything. Uh, I remember one incident, two Germans came in, I don't know if one of them was Mengele. As I mentioned to you once before I, we never looked up at Mengele, he was a tall man, because we were afraid to meet his eyes. We didn't want him to see us, so we always saw the beautiful shiny boots that he was wearing and the buckle but you kind of were afraid to look up any further. They came in and they said they needed fifty children for a transfer to go to Belgium. The Belgium government wanted fifty children. And uh, since it was such a wonderful thing, they didn't feel it would be right for them to do the picking and that we should volunteer, the ones that want to, should step forward and uh, they are the ones that will be out of this war. Well, each one of us wanted to be out of it, each one of us wanted a better life, but we were so conditioned by them that there weren't really that many volunteers although eventually they did get their quota. My reasoning was at the time, my mother was gone, I had known by then that my father was in Auschwitz. I hadn't seen him yet then, because it was during the time when I wasn't sure if he was there, but I knew that he had been in Auschwitz because my mother and I had seen him. And I thought to myself, here at least I know there is maybe somebody of my family. Where they're going to send us, none of us quite believed that it was going to be such a wonderful place. We thought maybe another camp, maybe certain work to do, or maybe the final solution, they needed another fifty people for the transport, as we called it. I mean we, we uh, were so used to being honest about it we didn't try to have any illusions among ourselves as far as facts were concerned. This one was killed or that one was killed, or this one died, or this one is standing on her knees with bricks up on sharp stones. You would just pass by that person and you wouldn't dare look at them. Because if you do, then you might wind up sitting or kneeling right next to them.

Was this a form of punishment?

Yeah. For maybe they didn't look the right way at a German, or maybe they...the German thought they were going to say something or maybe they went too fast and grabbed a piece of bread. I mean you didn't have to have a reason. That's why maybe because being a child, we could hide better, we could disappear.

So when they came for these fifty...


You decided not to go?

I decided not to go. In fact a couple of other friends of mine decided not to either and uh, we never heard of the other children. We don't know what happened to them. And many other little things that they came into the block. They were not forceful. They did it a very nice way. We didn't get any more food in fact, I think at the time, the crematoriums weren't working as much any more. I don't know why, I mean we weren't informed, and uh, my mother was gone, and I was really hungry. I really, this was the time that I was the hungriest of what I experienced through the years up to that point. I really missed her. And uh, we had some people come to the block also all dressed up with white bands with a red cross. Prior to that visit there was always making sure that we were nice and clean and that the beds are made clean and that uh, we should, we were in a nice way told we should appear that we're happy. And you do what you were told.

Do you remember any of the children disappear occasionally? You said there were twins there.

Yeah, these were twins. There were children taken and brought back continuously. You tended to mind your own business and try to survive and uh, just be concerned with things that were going around you immediately. As for myself at that point in my life, I at this point, if I think that if not for the fact that I thought that maybe my father is somewhere in camp, it was really the lowest point in my life where I felt that, what was the use of surviving? Up until then, you heard people say all the time, "Oh we've got to live, we've got to survive, we've got tell the world what is going on that people are treated like animals that there is all this killing going on for no reason, all this burning, all this...we've got to live." At that time, at that point of my life I really felt it wasn't worth it.

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