Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Shari Weiss - April 17, 1985


After one of the--some of the selections that you described earlier, were you able to witness any reaction of those had been selected for the gas chambers?

Well, as I touched upon that prior to this um, we were there until October and then in October the war effort...I mean became such that they needed people from camps to work in the factories. It was every able bodied man was taken up into the military, so these big factories came. I mean, I don't know who the men were that came into the camp to ask for us. But uh, I remember the one that came for us that I, I mean I ended up working for. He looked like Lord Fauntleroy, if you remember. He was a tart and very tall gray haired man, very gaunt looking. And they came and there was the selections and he selected the group of people that he wanted or he was present at the selection so the myth of all the German people not knowing what was going on is totally, totally that--a myth--because they knew what was going on because they had slave labor, and we were them, we were the slave laborers because they were there at our selections, because I recognized the man that came into Auschwitz when the selections went on. Anyhow, of course this all happened. Without Dr.Mengele nothing ever happened, so we were selected into groups and by that time, we were smart enough already. I mean it took us long enough to realize what was going on. You could smell the burning of the flesh. I mean because the ovens were going constantly and there wasn't room in the ovens anymore because there was so much gassing going on that they burned them outside, so the smell of flesh was, the air was putrid with it. And we knew something was happening because they were frenzied, you know in their selections and the goings on. I mean everything was just, I mean everybody was running around like something is going to happen and we were selected. I mean the stronger ones were selected to go uh, to work and they selected a group of people that uh, were...they put them in that children's camp as I told you before number eight. And you knew if you go in there that's the end of it. I mean sure enough, after the big selection which was, I think I don't know for what reason October 12th sticks in my mind, but I'm not positive. I think October 12th was the biggest selection and we were all taken out from our old barracks and put into different barracks ready for transport. Overnight, I mean we heard the people that were destined for the gas chambers, we heard the cries and the yells and the "macht schnell" and the "Souhunde" and all these expressions being yelled in the night. And we were of course in our bunks shivering and waiting to see maybe we're gonna be the next transport to go during these night hikes which meant to the crematoriums. But as day dawned they took us out and they marched us into another camp. It was called the AB Lager. And they put us into a barrack that didn't have anything. I mean it was just cement and it was a frightful night because not only didn't you have already the familiarity of your own little bunk but this was an entirely different region of the camp itself that we had never visited before, never seen. And to say the circumstances were dire is an understatement again. But we spent the night here, and half frozen to death and they transported us into another barrack just to, just to await transportation to another camp. We didn't know our destination of course. So already in these barracks there were a bunch of people sitting and they were all sitting on the floor and uh, praying and we went in to ask them "what are you doing, why are you sitting on the floor?" They said we are "Sitting shiva for ourselves" because they were destined to be taken to the gas chambers. And as we stood Zählappell that night, they didn't have a chance to take us into the barracks and there were trucks of dead bodies riding down, they were probably taken to be buried. And as we were standing in line we saw they were females, I saw the hands and the breasts of the women bobbing on the truck as they were...passing by. The transport that was sitting shiva for themselves were taken away the next morning never to be seen again, and we were put into trains and we were taken to another camp after many bombings of the railroad and rerouting again, but we didn't care. I mean we were happy that we were out of Auschwitz. At least we figured maybe if our trains get bombed, or somehow we'll get liberated, but we did reach our destination due to their methodical perseverance. They did take us into Altenburg, which was paradise in comparison. I mean we had regular bunk beds, just one person in a bed, also stacked up high. We had warm water and uh, the rations were very, very small but they were edible. But the catch to all this paradise was the fact that we worked twelve-hour shifts, from six at night to six in the morning one week, and from six in the morning to six at night the following week because we changed shifts. Every week we took a different shift. Life, if it was bearable here, to a certain extent it was better than Auschwitz. We thought maybe that we escaped the death camps at least, but we weren't so lucky, because there was that camp 150 miles away from us. So what is 150 miles? I mean people who were ill or couldn't hack it, they were just taken to Ravensbrück. I think was the camp that was near us. We were bombed here too by the American troops. Again, we were elated of course. We sat in bunkers while we were bombed, and even though we were frightened at the same time as I said before, we were glad that somebody was doing something. Uh...

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