Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Shari Weiss - April 17, 1985

Uncle in Auschwitz

Did you ever see your uncle again after the initial separation when you disembarked from the transport?

Yes. It was, this was a very, very funny incident. The way we were situated is, was, that I was in the C Lager and there was a road, a narrow road leading into my camp between another camp and I was in number seventeen and we used to go into number eighteen and the back, there was a back of the barrack, and just watch the road, just maybe we'll see somebody in the other camp and uh the other camp was a male camp, an all male camp. One day just by accident we saw my uncle.

"We" meaning?

My aunt and I. The two of us stayed together through all this. My uncle told us, we were you know he came, I mean we had moments where we could talk, I mean where nobody paid attention to us, so he was telling us that he's working in a clothing factory. He's sorting out clothes, you know that people bring and they sort out the I don't know whatever they find, gold and coins and uh clothing and shoes and everything and they sort it out and they, have to, they probably send it to Germany. So one day, my uncle, I was there uh, that was during the period when I only a pair of underpants on and my aunt became very ill so she couldn't come to the fence. I mean we called this was our fence uh, this was part of our curriculum that we knew already the time of day where we could go to the fence to talk to people that we knew across the fence I mean if you happened to have like we had our uncle I mean this was almost like a family reunited, I mean you almost took a sigh of relief that somebody stayed alive. So my uncle used to sometimes be able to smuggle out a piece of clothing and sell it for a piece of bread then he threw it over to my aunt and I. And one day as luck will have it my little piece of bread got caught on the barbed wire. Now this was a big decision--do I take my life in my hands and go and get that bread and take the chance of being electrocuted, or do I die of hunger? Well, I figured maybe hunger I'll survive but electrocution I won't, so I just stood there and waited you know looking really longingly for that little piece of bread that was hung up, he actually wrapped it in a piece of cloth and it was just hanging on a barbed wire. And an SS walked by very nattily dressed, very nicely I mean you know how punctual they are and how clean and everything and I, like a little waif that I was, stood there and just waited. I said whatever will happen will happen, I mean I'm not going to budge from here because that's my bread. It belongs to me. It was thrown to me and by hook or by crook I'll get it. So he stopped and he asked "who does this package belong to?" bread or whatever he said, I don't remember, and I said, "It's mine." And he says, "Would you like to have it?" I said, "I think more than I ever wanted anything else in my life," and he came up on the embankment because the barbed wires were sort of on an embankment, you know they were higher then the road, and he reached for it and he threw it over to me. So there are human beings among animals also. This was one act of kindness that I shall always remember and I thanked him for it and I said where there is a will there is a way. I had my piece of bread. Anyhow, after you know all the harassment and all, I mean, this went on daily, I mean harassment was such already that it was like when you punish a child constantly he doesn't even pay attention to it anymore you know. It becomes a way life and you just live with it and this is what I think happened to most of us. I mean we were just sort of uh, almost to the point, even beyond resignation, I mean it was just uh, I mean we were here so we're gonna live, but if you don't live it doesn't matter at all. But still deep down, deep inside, there was this will to defeat someone that so wants your total annihilation. I mean I think it was this rebellion that kept us alive more than anything else, because strength we didn't have for sure. I mean physical strength. Also when we were bombed, and we were bombed in Auschwitz, or surroundings, we were jubilant. We weren't afraid. I mean this was something that a bomb did not single you out. I mean a bomb fell on German and Jew alike and this was good. I mean I didn't care as long as somebody else came with me. So the bombing was a sign that somebody was out there maybe trying to fight for us or not only for us but for this whole madness to stop.

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