Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Nathan Weiselman - January 1, 1985

Conditions in the Camp

So the Russians gave you ??? clothing.

Yeah. And um, they tried to improve the condition but still the food was not enough because the climate was very severe. It was forty below zero. When we went to work we got to keep ourself close together by a big rope. The wind, the wind was so strong it could blow us away. And, and the tundra on the snow, we could hardly, we could find it. So we-when we went to work-at work, we came together with a rope and we went to work. So we went in the coalmines, they train me, and I work in the coalmines, and was happen different things. One time, you know, when we went to the, down to the shaft, to the coalmines. They gave everybody some-a post, for support, some wooden beams, to when they dynamite, you know uh, for the, for the sha... for the coalmine, that they would have to support uh, that uh, for a ceiling, the wooden, you need the wooden, wooden beams to support the ceiling. So it was probably about three, four, fifth, five, fifth, the highest that they have the, the, the height of the wooden beams, so we couldn't, when we were in the coalmines we could never stand up because they didn't have uh, uh, enough wood, the wood that would be tall enough to support for, for a higher ceiling. So we worked for all the day without being able to stand up. And uh, we were all black and the water didn't come out from this and the walls, and of course we're dark, we got ???, you know. From-to, every-everybody it happens, so. But it happens some times, some days we work and then ???. One time I see uh, newcomers come in, in the sh..., in the coalmine, and we could see that their faces is very pale and their figures thin, man, young women and girls going into work. We could tell that this people, they are not, you know, that they had just come from the city. Some even girls had even marks of uh, manicure, for the nails. It was so strange, I ask them, ??? because they coming in with their tools and their work is so clumsy, you could see that. And I said, "A lot of people ask them why they is even coming here." So, said we're going to stay here for three to four weeks. Three or four weeks? You going to really be able to work, to, to work with uh, explosives. In only three weeks you're not going to learn enough to be productive. I said, "Why did you come?" He said, "We volunteer." They said, "We volunteer..."

We volunteered.

Yes. Then we talk with the father and they came out in a little group. Actually, we want to see them but they came to us. The managers from some factories and some offices and they said, "We need ten percent from you now. If one hundred people, ten people likely to go, and they going to go out to work straight to the coalmine where I was work ???."

Where was the coalmine?

??? that's what they call.



Oh, ???. Yes.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn