Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Shari Weiss - April 17, 1985


You slipped out during the night back to your other barrack?

Yes. Uh-huh. We just knew that if I stayed there eventually what my fate will be and it did come through because when the big selections came when the Russians where nearing in October of `44, they were nearing Auschwitz, they uh, there was a, the biggest selection ever, Dr. Mengele was there at every selection, of course. But in this particular case, he was there almost every day for a period of a few weeks and he came into the barrack and you had to strip naked, and if you were lucky that you were big busted, you stayed alive but if you didn't have a bust it didn't matter how old you were I mean that was a sign of, I don't know what, that you weren't capable of working anymore or what, that was, that meant instant death. I mean because with a gloved hand he decided your fate, you will live and you shall die, I mean at least for the time being you will live, death was certain.

Can you describe Mengele? His appearance?

Mengele? His appearance? He was a tall man. Very good looking. He had a benign look about him. He was the angel of death. He was described perfectly because in appearance he looked like an angel but unfortunately he brought death with him, with his presence. There was an incident in camp, uh this mother that was very, very, very emaciated looking, very thin. And she had a beautiful little girl and even without hair she had such beautiful big blue eyes. She was really like a little angel, this little girl. And when it came to the selections Mengele threw the little girl away to one side and the ones that were more robust looking to the other side and the mother was on the side where she was a little more robust looking so she came among us who were selected for work and she kneeled down and she was kissing Mengele's boots so he would let her child come and stay with her and he just pushed her away with his boot so the mother decided to, to go with her daughter. I don't know what else you want me to elaborate on.

There were other selections that took place during your stay?

Constantly. I mean there were constant selections taking place. I mean there was, you know as the war, which we weren't aware of what was going out, I mean there were rumors constantly coming in, but as the Germans where doing less and less well on their fronts, that's how frantic they became about eliminating as many Jews as possible. I mean, it was, you could hear at night, I mean the yelling that went on and the screaming and the crying, you know I mean they were just picking people up during the night and taking them out while everybody was in their barracks, I mean under the cloak of darkness and you knew that ultimately that's gonna be your fate. I mean there is no way you're gonna come of this alive, I mean at this point you didn't even know if you wanted to. But for all the horrible things that happened and all the happenings that I saw, that took place, there was such a determination in me, I said, "Damn it, you're not gonna succeed because I'm gonna live." And I really believed that this is what got me through 'cause there was no reason for me to stay alive. I couldn't eat the food, I mean there was no way I could get that junk down my throat, it was just dirt and grass and whatnot cooked together, but it wouldn't go down my throat because, everybody had to take uh, they gave dinner in one big plate and you had to slurp out of that plate and it just, even under those conditions it just went against my grain. I just couldn't do it. I didn't have hot food in my stomach for six months. The little bread that they gave us which was divided into I think a pound of bread was divided into, I don't even remember...10 rations or what--I don't remember. Anyhow, we had a thin slice of bread. This is all the food that I took, I mean I didn't uh...

That was your daily portion?

That was my daily portion. Uh-huh, yes. We didn't need any diet plans for sure there. We handed one and uh...

Do you recall any, besides Mengele, were there any other German overseers that stand out in your mind?

Yes. This was, do you know something, after forty years I forgot her name, but I think her name was Graza, and she was this, she was absolutely, I don't know how anyone can describe someone as inhuman, beautiful but she was a beautiful woman, she was a blonde. I think I told you on my tape she was like Grace Kelly. She looked like Grace Kelly. She was immaculately groomed always. Always with gloves on her hands and always a dog but she was the cruelest, the most unfeeling person that I did ever come across. I mean with the flick of a finger or wrist she just as well killed you as let you live I mean without any compunction or without any feelings I mean you were a piece of dirt as far as she was concerned. On Yom Kippur, because we had Yom Kippur there, I spent Yom Kippur in Auschwitz and for some reason even under these circumstances we felt if there is a God and we did...and if we did sin and if we do keep this Day of Atonement maybe we'll stay alive. We didn't eat our food, so uh, what they did with it they made a food that was edible that day and they just, when they brought it in front of every barrack they just spilled the food out so we wouldn't even get to it at night if any of us would have wanted it. We didn't get our rations that day since we were anyhow fasting.

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