Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Jack Weinberger - February 6, 1983

Food in the Work Camps

What was the uh, the, the food like in Ebensee? Was there less food there?

Less food, a lot less food, less food. Can you imagine, I was only forty-four American pounds, why, how much food could I get? I was lucky every second day, every second day. I remember when I came back already from Wels. We were there maybe, also maybe a, a month, I don't know. Finally because the Americans came back and they bombed it again. So uh, apparently the Germans gave up to building it, rebuilding it, I don't know what ha... the reason was or any--they took us back to Ebensee. Which was a concentration camp over there you could be guarded, no escape. See a lot of people are escaping. So that, so we came back to Germany, I was so weak, so weak. I mean, I couldn't walk, I couldn't talk. So one moment I got up and I couldn't even take off my shoes and I said his name, my cousin. Moishe. It's like you take a rubber, a rubber ball, has a little hole, you press it in, you know, you can press in little, the same thing I was swelled, I was that big. Swollen from hunger. Used to eat outside and, you know, working outside in the mountains used to build those factories. We were eating coals, you know coal the plain coal uh, we eat. Coals and, and grass, and anything we could ??? eating. And uh, I said Moishe this is, this is my last time here I going to perish here are my shoes. That's the only thing I ever said, Moishe this is my last day, last time I'm going. Sign up for the I have to die sooner or later. So I gave him the shoes. And they took us uh, like it's called the hospital. And there was already, there, like a line to be dying. Just like a slow death, and over there I saw quite a few people from my home town, two of which I hadn't seen for a whole year. I remember one name uh, one uh, his name was ???, it was the uncle, I didn't know it was the uncle, it was the uncle, ???. I said, "no, don't you recognize me?" I said, "no I don't even know who you are," which I didn't. Changed so much, at home he had a beard, he was religious. He had got so skinny and weak, no beard. He said, "I'm so and so," but then I recognized him ??? it was the uncle. He said, "if you don't bring me a little, I know bread you don't have, you cannot give me. But if you don't bring me a little water I'm gonna die, and I'm going to die." So I tried to go into the washroom to bring him a little water, just ??? water. By the time I came back he had already--was laying, he was dead. Really weak from hunger. There was uh, I would say maybe two days before we were liberated, two or three days. Must have had at least 20,000 dead bodies piled up, I mean, I'm telling you not just making up, at least 20,000 dead bodies piled up which they couldn't burn them. We had a crematorium that was going twenty-four hours a day. The Americans and British were approaching. And I-- we could smell it. From laying outside from the smell from the dead bodies. So they picked up a, a group. People to dig, in the camp, ditches. To uh, not to have proof for the Ameri... they knew the war, the, they're losing the war. So, not to have so many dead bodies piled up so they dig it to bury them. Must have been five thousand in a, in a, in a ditch. They burying them there. Then when the Americans came in they picked up the civilian people in the, in the village, in the city. They came back and they had to take them out, out of the graves, take them out. With cameras and pictures civilians take them out. I remember, nobody had no clothes on, nothing. Civilian people came in and they used to hold their noses like, because of the smell. My God, my God it was right next to our village and we didn't believe it. And they had to take uh, uh, caskets for everyone of 'em. Take 'em to the village to uh, decent burial.

This was in Ebensee?

Ebensee, it was after the war, I'd say two, three days after the war. It was Americans make them do it.

Yeah. What uh, do you recall any of the names of the factories that were operating there?

Outside, we never went.

Did you ever know ???

We never went into the city. The only place we went was in the mountains to, to those building...


Building those...

Were any of those civilian factories though? Do you know?

Outside, I have no idea.

In the mountains?

How do I know about these things, we didn't know nothing. Everything went up to the government, I suppose, I have no idea.

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