Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Eva Wimmer - January 1, 1985

Transfer to and Life in Forced Labor Camp

And from nowhere one Gestapo man came close to another Gestapo man and he said, "I need 500 girls to one camp, to ammunition factory, in one camp." And he said, "Okay, 500 girls in one moment." And he start counting: five, ten, fifteen, twenty and the five sisters were among those people and this is how, by a miracle, we survived. The 500 girls he took out and he told us to go to the right and the remaining, whoever was there, unfortunately, the unlucky went into the gas chamber because it went so many they could take at one time. And he took us uh, to a little area over there. While, while we were standing there, the Germans--everything was in five. While we were standing there until they organized it was a little bit commotion because they had to send us a little something, clothes. We were naked so they throw the clothes to us. One got a size five. Let's say if I needed a size seven, I got a size fourteen. But this, they didn't care. And the one who needed a size uh, uh, fourteen needed--got a size five. So, among us, that's where the commotion came. We had to switch. Give me your size because I can put it on. So, until we organized a little bit, whatever we got, a little bit to cover up our bodies, so they marched with us. We walked to our train and they took us to a, a little camp. It was the 500 girls had three barracks. We arrived. I don't recall correctly how long it took us to this little ride. It wasn't too far because in--we, we were uh, from Berlin a short time so this must have been uh, maybe fifty minutes from Berlin. This was no camp, the little town where we worked. And Krupp's factory was the name of the factory--ammunition factory. When we came to the barracks was already a little relief because there were eighteen girls to a room. Eight, eight, no eighteen girls. Nine bunk beds on each side because two were in, in one. In one bed were two girls. So, the five sisters we were two, two and one shared with a friend and we all became friends, the eighteen girls who we were together. Well, all from different parts of Poland. We never probably saw each other, but we had no choice. We lived together. Every barrack had two washrooms. Uh, our Gestapo man uh, provided us with a little bit, not the best, but--so we could have soap, the worst, of course, but we could--we had to shower actually. It was a order. Every single day four o'clock in the morning. We had to take a shower, a cold shower--there was no warm water--a cold shower, before we took off to work. Well, we showered. Everybody knew where the rooms were going from one to eighteen. Every barrack had eighteen rooms. So, we had, we had--our room was number three. All of us, each one of us, had a blue uniform, one only. One pair of wooden shoes when we arrived to the, to this uh, place. One pair of underwear and one undershirt, that's what they gave us. Our Gestapo man--of course, we were all young girls, the oldest maybe forty-eight years of age woman uh, he asked us if we have, if we need something for our period. And we said we don't have it. What they did we don't know 'til now. As soon we came to the, to the ghetto in Łódź--I was at the time, I think, sixteen when we came to the ghetto our period stopped. All of my sisters, all my friends, whoever I talk with. What they did we don't know. If it was from malnutrition, no--not the food, what we were supposed to eat. Whatever it was, or they gave us something in the food, we don't know. But, this what happened. But, anyways, this Gestapo man tried to--he, he brought us 500 babushkas. He was a very unusual German uh, Gestapo man. He was very unusual because no camp did this, no camp. He felt like we would like to cover our heads until the hair will grow back. So, he brought us 500 blue babushkas. He, he ordered uh, toothbrushes. He ordered uh, sanitary pads just in case if somebody will need it. He was an extremely uh, German Gestapo man. Very unusual. It was probably one of a million or more because nobody had this. And believe me, it was no picnic what we had. But to compare whatever we had everywhere else and what others said this year what we, almost a year we spend in this camp, at least we, we could wash out some that when we were not working this, this uniform washed out once a week in cold water. He saw to it that what--that we could do this. We hung it out. In the wintertime, we, we, we had, in the barracks we had uh, uh, how do they call it? The heat didn't come out this way, but it was standing, uh...


Radiators, yes. On the radiators, everybody was standing in line. I was first. Then, somebody else. This is how we washed out whatever we had. Not very much. So, this was not, like I say, we had very little, but to compare us what others said in different camps, this already we had a little bit facilities like we could wash out something. Uh, others would--they had lice, they had bugs, they had everything. What we did is every Sunday when we did not work, we cleaned the barracks, all of us. We, we, we had uh, our, our little uh, assignments to do and uh, to keep it so we won't, we won't get bugs and, and, and germs and whatever. So, we kept it as decent as we could. It wasn't the best, but half decent. Every day, four o'clock, we had to wake up, shower, get dressed, and we had to go out. They call it Appell in German. They counted us. The Gestapo men and our lady uh, uh, officer, she--we called her Mütteräteste, like the mother of the, of the, of the 500, she was in charge of us. So, we called her Mütteräteste.

Was she Jewish?

No, she was German. And then we had--she assigned one German, one Jewish lady who was uh, from Czechoslovakia. She was uh, she had the doctor's degree uh, very intelligent woman, but she was tough. She was a toughie. She, she was one of us, but she probably tried to show this Mütteräteste, the German lady, that she can be tougher than, than she was originally was. She was tough, but uh, she had her orders, but she did much more than really should. She gave us orders um, um, um, unbearable many times. So, when, when they counted us that, God forbid, nobody should run away. We, in our camp was.. [phone ringing].

[interruption in interview] In our camp when, when they counted the 500 girls we had to march off to, to uh, like we started six o'clock, from six o'clock in the morning 'til six o'clock in the evening, twelve hours of labor work.

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