Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Regina Cohen - April 18, 1982

Being Deloused

I've never seen a nude lady--a nude person or uh, nude--and we're all--you're asked to line up. I don't know if they gave us a bath or they just line you up and they start shaving your heads. And uh, of course uh, Jewish girls are doing this that were there years before. Everybody gets trained to do something. I wonder why we all did it. Anyway, one--whether we went to take a bath, that I cannot remember--but I remember being shaven. My hair was awfully long, I had long braids. And some of the girls cried. I didn't cry. Uh, I think I was so petrified that I, I think I smiled instead of crying because you don't know what shock can do to you. Then I remember something awfully smelly uh, DDT powder, they would--or liquid, they would wash your scalp and under your arm and anywhere else you might have--private areas that they think you should be cleaned. Then you go a little bit further. The only thing I remember carrying the shoes. Uh, so you got nothing--oh yeah. You left your shoes out by the door and you did have to go in for, for a bath--what they called that a shower, and the shoes is what you did pick up on the way out again. Uh, you have nothing left. Then you go to another area where the hall just continues going--there's some tables with clothing, rags, clothing, whatever. And you're being thrown one item: a dress. So all my clothing is a one little summer dress. Uh, I think this is where they issue you a number, and I'm not even clear on that. I'm so preoccupied with that I just lost my family and I won't see them that nothing uh, really matters. I couldn't have cared if--looking back I know I didn't care if I lived or died at that particular moment because, you know, at fourteen being torn away like that is uh, I didn't belong to nobody. It's petrifying. I don't remember if I was issued a number then. I know I wore a number though on, on a piece of cloth, uh. Finally at the end of the line uh, my head is shaven and it hurts like the dickens because it almost--it burns.

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