Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Shari Weiss - April 17, 1985

Arrival at Auschwitz

Were there dead in your wagon do you recall?

I don't recall, I don't recall. I mean all I remember is that I was most of the time dazed because of the lack of oxygen on the train and being squashed you know with so many, against so many bodies. And as we were approaching Auschwitz they told us that we are coming to a place where we're gonna be working and since our packages cannot come down with us at the same time that we should take our packages apart and sew a yellow star on them and write our names and addresses on it. Now this was another method just to make us more uncomfortable, uncomfortable is an understatement, to make us scurry around more because everybody wanted their little belongings so everybody was trying very hard even under those conditions to put their name on their belongings so that when we get there that we should have something to put on our backs. It was an exercise in futility because nothing remained of our belongings. I mean even the little clothes that we had on our backs were taken away from us. Anyhow, after four days we arrived in Auschwitz. By this time it was a Friday, June 1st, and once, I'll have to look it up to see if my memory serves me right. My first day in Auschwitz was a Friday. The first thing we saw were the shooting flames out of a tower-like structure. Needless to say it was the most frightening thing I did ever see. I mean, I was only fifteen and my imagination ran wild with me, I mean I didn't know what to think. But, it was so eerie. It was so frightening.

What time of day?

It was in the middle of the night. During the day you put things in a different perspective then you do at night so at night everything seems a lot eerier because you don't have uh, the vision that you have during the night, so you imagine things of course and I was sure that they gonna take us and burn us alive. And as we were getting off the trains they told us that the men and the women should separate. And we said goodbye to my uncle and uh...my aunt and I proceeded to go with the women...so as we were going through the lines, I mean the SS men were standing there and they were asking our age. So my aunt, I don't recall how old she was, but she must have been in her prime, I mean to me she was an old lady because I was only fifteen of course, and anybody above seventeen was old, so we got a nod to go to the left and then we saw some women with their children going to the right and we were herded into a huge room. I mean this took an awful long time I mean it took the better part of the night because this was an awfully big transport. And they herded us into a room that was full of SS men. This was still during the night. And they told us to totally disrobe and I said to my aunt, "when will they leave? I'm not going to get undressed." And, of course, they had no intentions of leaving, I mean and they kept urging us on. So there was no room to hide or anything, they herded us, I mean they hurried us on so we had to take off all our clothes and if they liked something that you were wearing like your shoes, that's the only thing you could keep, but if they liked your shoes, they took your shoes away too. And we were standing naked and going through different stages of the room until we came to the people who started shaving us. All parts of our bodies, our heads and our genital parts, everything. And then they herded us into the showers to be disinfected and when we came out of the showers they gave us a dress with nothing else, just one dress no shoes, no underwear, nothing and they herded us outside and they lined us up by five. This was for some reason they had a fixation with five in a row because all through my camp, my stay in camp, we were always placed five in a row. And then we were standing around for the longest time until they started marching us into the camp that we eventually stayed in. I don't remember the marching band because by that time I was totally, totally disoriented. I mean I couldn't imagine how is it that from one moment to the next you are reduced from a human being into a nothing. I mean just someone without a say so in your own fate. So, as they marched us into the camp, and we were in front of the camp like I was in the C Lager, just like your mom was, and as we were staying there and it was daylight already and we haven't had anything to eat or drink or sleep, nothing. I mean we were just there totally frightened like a bunch of children. And I looked around me and I saw all the barbed wire around me and I said to myself, I said, "Dear God even if I would have wings I could not fly out of here." Because as far as the eye could see there was nothing but barbed wire. So finally they assigned us to the different barracks and I came to number seventeen was my barrack, and that's where your mother was. Our block elder's name was Vera Fischer. She was a seasoned veteran of this camp. She had her hair, she was nicely dressed, I mean she was in charge. By this time she must have gone through hell already for so many years that she acquired a position and she made her life easier as best as she knew how.

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