Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Weiss - October 7, 1994

Arrival in Auschwitz

The last time you saw your mother?

That's the last time I seen my mother. And all those people--children were crying, "Mommy, mommy, mommy!" Parents were crying. "Moishala! Where are you? Where are you? What's happening?" In that tumult. And then... the--I seen--you seen a lot of people there. I wasn't that tall. I couldn't see what's happening really. Then I seen some German officers walk up. Now if you gonna ask me was that Mengele, Mengele, or who it was, I don't have the slightest idea. But what it, it hurt me what they did. They were separating the people. I didn't know why. And I don't even know who told me to go wherever I was going. I was in daze. But they were, what they were doing really, they were saying, they were judging who should live and who should die. That's what they were doing. Yes. And then I remember going to a place and they said, "Take off your clothes. And leave everything here."

Were you with your father?

Y...no. Uh--no. I didn't know but this has--I find my father a week later that he was right there with me in Auschwitz in another barrack.

So on the platform you were separated from both parents?

Yes. They made us put down our clothes there. And what it hurted me the most to put down my tefillin. We were very poor. But my parents got me a very beautiful, expensive tefillin. What I used every morning. And I had to leave them. And let me tell you something. That was the first time that I didn't davened in my tefillin. That also was the first time that I eat treyf. Auschwitz was the first time that I worked on Shabbos or yom tov. Was the first time. [long pause]

What must have gone through your head at this point?

At, at, right then, nothing. I couldn't even think; I was in a daze. I couldn't even watch out for--I don't know; I went with the crowd; I done what they said. Nothing. But rational I was not. If I were rationalize, what, what's happening? Or where I am? Auschwitz, Auschwitz, I didn't know. Nobody said, "You're welcome. This is Auschwitz" and things. I, I--at that time, and this is up to date, and at night I'm still--I'm trying to go through my mind. And this don't come back. This is blank. This is all blank.

Were you tattooed?

No because that summer the Hungarian Jews in six weeks they wanted to hurry up to kill 'em. And, and when it came to my barrack, they had to make room, so we were shipped up to Buchenwald. But I had my number. I can't forgot. You give me a number now, in two minutes, I will not know it.

What's the number?

Siebenundfünfzigvierhundertneunzig. 57,490. And my father's number is Siebenundfünfzigfünfhundertdrei. 57,503.

Is that... What time did you get there? Was it night time?

It was in the morning.

It was uh, in the morning?

In the morning. In the morning because I remember when the doors opened it was dark there. We were in dark about two and a half days. And the sun started to come up. And, you know, it hits your eyes. You could hardly see when you come down. And you cried a lot. Everybody if you it's--everybody, everybody--you, I, I mean you take out your peace-loving people. Never hurted nobody. The only thing they tried when they're alive is to be honest people, to provide for their families. That's all that their mission was in life. And to be God-fearing. That's what their mission was in life. Not to accumulate wealth or something. I never felt home that I lived in a small house. I went to bed many times hungry.

They had you take your clothes off? Where...


In the uh, large barracks?

Uh, well... yes. I don't know how large. Uh, uh, it had a room likes in it. I understand that when I took my--the next room was a shower or something.

Did you go through a shower?

Now this is another thing. I couldn't tell you. This is the blanks. Was it hot water? Was it cold water?

But uh, you went through the shower?

But I went--I, I, I, yeah, yeah, yeah. And coming out of there I was getting uh, clothes. No underwear or anything. I was getting a pants and a jacket. White and blue stripes. And I was getting a, a cap. White and blue. And a pair of shoes uh, with wooden soles.

Wha--these are all men now?

Yes. Yes, all men.

You didn't think about your mother?

I didn't know, no, no, no, no, no, I didn't know. No. I, I, I, I didn't--I couldn't think--I was--I, I couldn't think--my thinking capa...capability was not in existence because I was someplace, between people someplace what, what uh, I don't think the mind can comprehend what, what, what was there.

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