David P. Boder Interviews Nelly Bondy; August 22, 1946; Paris, France

var transcription = { interview: [ David Boder

[In English] What was you name, mademoiselle?

Nelly Bondy

My name was . . . ah . . . Mrs. Bondy.

David Boder

Mrs. Vandy?

Nelly Bondy

Bondy. B-O-N-D-Y.

David Boder

Oh! You have learned to spell names here [laughing].

Nelly Bondy

Of course. I was obliged to.

David Boder

And where are you from, Mrs. Bondy?

Nelly Bondy

I'm from Vienna, Austria!

David Boder

You . . . you are from Vienna, Austria!

David Boder

Where did you learn your English?

Nelly Bondy

In Vienna.

David Boder

In Vienna. Did you know in Vienna my friend, Mr. Lowenherz?

Nelly Bondy

No, I'm sorry.

David Boder

You didn't hear the name?

Nelly Bondy

No. I left Vienna quite a time ago, you see?

David Boder

Uh-huh . . .

Nelly Bondy

Ten years ago, or so . . .

David Boder

All right. Well . . . [pause] Lift that [?] [Low volume]. Do you smoke?

Nelly Bondy

No, sir. I don't smoke

David Boder

Miss Bondy . . .

Nelly Bondy

Ja . . .

David Boder

. . . will you tell us your full name and where are you from?

Nelly Bondy

Well, I was born in Vienna, Austria, and my names are Nelly Bondy. You don't want my maiden name, do you?

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

You want it? Well, I was . . . I have a German name.

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

It is . . . ah . . . Strasser.

David Boder

Strasser?

Nelly Bondy

Strasser. Yes.

David Boder

[Laughing] It's a very conspicuous German name. Now tell me, Miss Bondy, will you tell us where were you when the Germans came to . . . ah . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . to Paris?

David Boder

Where were you when the Germans invaded the place where you lived?

Nelly Bondy

Well, I was in Paris.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And the . . . the Germans were expected June . . . the 14th, "40 . . . '40 . . . Yes.

David Boder

The Germans were expected when?

Nelly Bondy

Oh well, they were expected any moment at that time.

David Boder

Yes, so?

Nelly Bondy

Well, I left Paris on a bicycle on June . . . the 14th.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

'40.

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

I made nine hundred kilometers.

David Boder

On a bicycle?

Nelly Bondy

On a bicycle. It took me ten days.

David Boder

You must have . . . did the bicycle . . . did the bicycle hold out? Did the . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I just . . . I just bought it in order to get away.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

I had a lot of difficulties to get it because . . . oh . . .

David Boder

Um . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . everybody else had the same idea, you see?

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I came to the south of France; and . . . ah . . . I joined my husband there who [was] in the army and who was stationed south there.

David Boder

Ja. He was in the French Army, of course?

Nelly Bondy

In the Czech Army. No. He's a Czech subject.

David Boder

A Czech?

Nelly Bondy

He was a Czech subject and he . . . he was in the Czech Army in France.

David Boder

Oh, there were Czech regiments in . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes. There was a Czech . . . a Czech regiment. Yes . . .

David Boder

Aha . . .

Nelly Bondy

It was formed by Czech subjects who were living in France.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . I have tâ . . . I had two children at that time.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I had . . . I had come from south . . . Nice . . . four weeks formerly, before I departed myself.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, we joined all together there and we returned to Paris in . . . ah . . . September '40.

David Boder

Well, were the Germans in Paris already?

Nelly Bondy

The Germans were in Paris.

David Boder

So why did you [?] . . . did you return?

Nelly Bondy

Well, my husband wanted to return, you see.

David Boder

What?

Nelly Bondy

My husband wanted to return back.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

He . . . ah . . . he . . . they had opportunity to go over to England . . .

David Boder

Oh!

Nelly Bondy

. . . because the British took . . . ah . . . took over all the Czech soldiers . . .

David Boder

Yes..

Nelly Bondy

. . . who were discharged from the army. But my husband was afraid that something might happen to me and the children, on the passage . . .

David Boder

Oh, he didn't want to leave you?

Nelly Bondy

He didn't want to leave us. No.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

So we turned back to Paris, all of us.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . he was arrested in '41.

David Boder

Yes. As what?

Nelly Bondy

As a Czech Jew.

David Boder

As a Czech . . . as a Jew . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

. . . and Czech. Yes . . . and?

Nelly Bondy

He was . . . taken to a camp . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . near Orleans.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

That's not far from Paris, about sixty kilometers from here.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

He was detained there for thirteen months.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And then he was deported.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . unknown destination.

David Boder

Unknown destination?

Nelly Bondy

Unknown destination.

David Boder

You mean to say he's not back?

Nelly Bondy

No, he isn't back [?].

David Boder

He's not?

Nelly Bondy

No. I tell you the story.

David Boder

Ja.

Nelly Bondy

I found out much of what became of him later.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, there was [?] never any news about him. I continued to live in Paris. We had a business here and I managed it.

David Boder

What kind of business did you have?

Nelly Bondy

My husband had a fancy jewelry [store].

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . import and export business.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I . . . I kept on, manage it for one year till July '42.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

One in the morningâit was half past four in the morningâthey came up to fetch me. Well, I didn't open my door; and I left Paris the very night with the children . . .

David Boder

How could you not open the door?

Nelly Bondy

Well, I didn't open.

David Boder

And they . . .

Nelly Bondy

It was locked and they didn't break it.

David Boder

And you were quiet?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I didn't stir. I didn't stir at all.

David Boder

And tell me . . . how old were your children?

Nelly Bondy

Well, I had one of five, one of three, and a little one who was . . . ah . . . thirteen or fourteen months at that time.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And the very night I left Paris; I had a governess. She came with me, and we carried the children and we passed through the demarcation line.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Illegally.

David Boder

Into unoccupied France?

Nelly Bondy

Yes . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, we stayed down there for . . . till March '43.

David Boder

In what . . . place?

Nelly Bondy

We went to Lyon.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And then we left for quite a small place in the Departement de Nievre, well, about thirty-five kilometers from Lyon; and we lived there quietly. I had a false identity card.

David Boder

Oh, you had a false identity card?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

And your governess was a French woman?

Nelly Bondy

No. She was a . . . she had false papers, too.

David Boder

Yes. Permit one question. How did you travel to Lyon?

Nelly Bondy

We took the train to the demarcation line.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And then we went on foot with two guides.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

I had to carry a bundle of clothing [?] for us, and my governess carried the small one who was fourteen or fifteen months; and my little girl who was five, had to walk. We walked all night.

David Boder

Now wait a moment. You came to the border.

Nelly Bondy

Yes . . .

David Boder

But you said you had false papers. Couldn't you cross the border?

Nelly Bondy

No. We hadn't got the papers till then.

David Boder

Oh . . .

Nelly Bondy

At that time we hadn't got the false papers.

David Boder

So then you had to get across secretly?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . . tell me . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, we succeeded. We had two guides and we were crossing the woods.

David Boder

Now . . . ah . . . permit me again to interrupt. You . . . where do you get two guides? What kind of people were they?

Nelly Bondy

They were French.

David Boder

Did they . . . did you pay them for the . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I paid; but not very much . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . for they were good people, you see.

David Boder

They were good people.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

And at the same time you had to pay them something for their time?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I . . . I didn't pay them much.

David Boder

Ja . . . all right , and so you walked along . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, We walked from eleven in the night till three in the morning.

David Boder

Yes. And . . . ?

Nelly Bondy

And then we were led to another house.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . there we could pass the night . . . we could spend the night . . . and then we were already in unoccupied France. We had to walk another two hours in order to reach the next . . . car.

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

In the car they made an inspection. They wanted papers.

David Boder

You mean the railroad?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. No, it was a bus line.

David Boder

Oh, it was a bus?

Nelly Bondy

A bus line, yes. Well, they wanted papers. Of course, I hadn't got any, but I had been a volunteer in the French de Force Passive.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I had a kind of sauf-conduit for the prefecture . . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . which didn't show anything. Just my name and address, and my name is very French.

David Boder

Ja . . . but say, what kind of a Force Passive? That was the old Force Passive?

Nelly Bondy

No. Force Passive [?] means . . . anti-aircraft, you see.

David Boder

Oh, the anti-aircraft.

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I was a volunteer there, and I had a safe conduit from the prefecture which . . . which . . . I don't know how to say . . .

David Boder

Which gave you safe conduct or something?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, a safe conduct; and I was authorized to circulate in Paris with all anti-aircraft . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

It was to give more special help for circulating.

David Boder

Now for which prefecture was that?

Nelly Bondy

The French Prefecture de Police.

David Boder

Before the Germans?

Nelly Bondy

Before the Germans came in.

David Boder

Oh, that's what I meant.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . . now . . .

Nelly Bondy

Alors, I showed them this paper and it worked out all right.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, in Nievre we didn't . . . we did stay for two or three months and then we left. And we lived in a small place till March . . . '43. Then I had no more money.

David Boder

What become of all you property? You say you had a jewelry business?

Nelly Bondy

It's all . . . everything we left. Everything was left in Paris.

David Boder

Everything was left in Paris.

Nelly Bondy

Well, I just took along the ready money I had.

David Boder

What?

Nelly Bondy

I just took along the ready money I had.

David Boder

Oh, yes. All right.

Nelly Bondy

Yes . . .

David Boder

Go ahead.

Nelly Bondy

And . . . well, the money lasted till March '43. Then I had no more left.

David Boder

Yes

Nelly Bondy

And in March '43, the demarcation line was opened to French citizens.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

As I had a French identity card . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

I went back quite openly with the train from Lyon to Paris.

David Boder

With false paper?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well . . .

David Boder

Well, your name was still the same, wasn't it?

Nelly Bondy

My name, yes. I couldn't change my name because of the children.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

Because if somebody asked them how . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

How's your name?

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

They . . . they couldn'tâ I couldn't teach them overnight that they had to change their names.

David Boder

Yes:

Nelly Bondy

I couldn't, so I thought, anyway it's French.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . I came back to Paris.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And in Paris I got arrested at the Gare de Lyon . . .

David Boder

Why?

Nelly Bondy

. . . because I had two identity cards. I had my other one, too.

David Boder

Oh, and from the other it was known that you were Jewish, or what?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, of course. There was . . . there was a stamp on it: 'Jew."

David Boder

Who stamped that?

Nelly Bondy

The prefecture . . .

David Boder

Oh!

Nelly Bondy

. . . after the Germans came back, you see.

David Boder

After the Germans . . .

Nelly Bondy

After the Germans came in there. Before there was nothing on the card.

David Boder

Nothing. Yes.

Nelly Bondy

Well, I was arrested and I was sent to Drancy, that famous camp near Paris.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I stayed there for three months.

David Boder

And the children?

Nelly Bondy

The children had remained in the non-occupied zone with their governess.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And as soon as she knew that I had been arrested she moved them on to quite another part of France and she left them there.

David Boder

With whom?

Nelly Bondy

Well, with a ladyâa French ladyâwho didn't know that they were Jewish children.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And they have kept them all the time and they are even now . . . they're over there.

David Boder

Ja . . . they are now over there?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

But you have all three children?

Nelly Bondy

I have all my three children.

David Boder

I was afraid to ask, you know [laughing].

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I have them. I found them.

David Boder

Yes . . . now . . .

Nelly Bondy

Ah . . .

David Boder

Ah . . . so you were arrested . . . and came to Drancy.

Nelly Bondy

. . . and I went to Drancy. Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, I was sent along on the next . . . ah . . . transport.

David Boder

How long were you in Drancy?

Nelly Bondy

Three months.

David Boder

And did anybody try to get you out?

Nelly Bondy

No.

David Boder

No. You had no friends to . . .

Nelly Bondy

I haven't . . . got anybody.

David Boder

The . . . some people were getting out?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I don't know how they managed it, but I remember on old lady whose son was a South American citizen and . . .

David Boder

Did he . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . he, by the consulate . . . he could get her out.

David Boder

Oh . . . yes.

Nelly Bondy

And there was some special categories there, for example, people who were authorized Hungarian . . . Hungarians . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

. . . recognized Hungarians [unintelligible] . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . and they . . . they could get out.

David Boder

Yes. Now tell me this . . . three months you were there?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Did you meet a Mrs. Falk there?

Nelly Bondy

No, I don't remember.

David Boder

You don't remember.

Nelly Bondy

No.

David Boder

I'm just trying to help people.

Nelly Bondy

I'm sorry. I don't remember names.

David Boder

Ja . . . that's all right.

Nelly Bondy

You see . . .

David Boder

I'm asking because sometimes like before some people tell me, now if you see somebody from there ask something.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I understand.

David Boder

You see, that's why I'm doing it.

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I understand, but . . .

David Boder

All right. Now three months you were in Drancy.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

What were you doing in Drancy for three months?

Nelly Bondy

Nothing. There was nothing to do. I was taking care of the room. I was sweeping the floor and the . . .

David Boder

How many people were you in the room?

Nelly Bondy

There was quite a big dormitory. There were . . . there must have been . . . well, eighty or so.

David Boder

Did you sleep each one in a separate bed ?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, we did.

David Boder

You had a separate bed for you?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Were there women with children?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, women and children.

David Boder

There were women and children.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

And . . . did they let you write any letters?

Nelly Bondy

No.

David Boder

No . . .

Nelly Bondy

We had . . . yes, we had the right to write . . . one postcard a month, but we could manage to get out letters secretly, you see.

David Boder

Yes, you could manage to get it out the other way.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

All right. Then what happened?

Nelly Bondy

Well, in June '43, I was . . . loaded into a car. There were forty-nine other people who were taken on the van . . .

David Boder

All women?

Nelly Bondy

No. That was quite mixed up.

David Boder

Men, women, and children?

Nelly Bondy

Men, women, and children.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

Well, we remained in this car for three nights; two days and three nights.

David Boder

What kind of car was it?

Nelly Bondy

Well, a big car. You know, a van you call it in English, I think.

David Boder

Well, it was a freight car?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, a freight car.

David Boder

En . . . did it have . . .

Nelly Bondy

Eight horses or forty men.

David Boder

Yes . . . . Do they write here to . . . 'Huit et quarante' and call these eight horses and forty men?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I think so.

David Boder

Because we have in the American Legion . . . [it] has a special detachment that they call the Eight and Forty.

Nelly Bondy

I don't know that.

David Boder

Yes . . . well, it is a comic kind of detachment of the Legion, you see.

Nelly Bondy

I see.

David Boder

And they call themselves the Eight and Forty or the Forty and Eight.

Nelly Bondy

I see. Yes . . .

David Boder

Now tell me. It was a . . . it was then a . . . freight car?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Did it have any benches, anything to . . .

Nelly Bondy

Nothing at all.

David Boder

Nothing to sit on.

Nelly Bondy

Absolutely nothing.

David Boder

All right. Did it have toilet facilities?

Nelly Bondy

No.

David Boder

No . . . did they open the cars at the stations for you to go out?

Nelly Bondy

Well, . . . in France, yes. As soon as we had crossed the border, very . . . very rarely, you see. I think once or twice.

David Boder

Did you get water into the car?

Nelly Bondy

We got . . . one small bottle of water . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . for fifty people.

David Boder

And then how would you drink it?

Nelly Bondy

Well, we had taken along some bowls and . . . ah . . . glasses, you see.

David Boder

Glasses and cups . . . ?

Nelly Bondy

. . . and cups. From Drancy.

David Boder

All right. And . . . there were no toilet facilities in the car?

Nelly Bondy

No. No.

David Boder

So what were people doing?

Nelly Bondy

Well, they had another bucket. That was all. We had . . . a cover on it . . . that was . . . all we could do.

David Boder

Yes, but where were you . . . where were you satisfying you need?

Nelly Bondy

Well, I . . . I told you. There was a second bucket for that.

David Boder

Yes, but it was open, or was it covered?

Nelly Bondy

Well, it was open; but we had to . . . we threw it out. There was a quite a small window.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

And it was . . . [we] threw it down, low . . .

David Boder

But . . . I mean, was the bucket in any way . . .

Nelly Bondy

No, nothing. No, no. [her voice becomes high in pitch and irritable]

David Boder

. . . that people had privacy?

Nelly Bondy

No, nothing. I told you. We just wrapped a cover around us.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

That was all.

David Boder

Oh, you wrapped . . . you wrapped a cover around you when used it . . . as you went to use it.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Yes, when we used it.

David Boder

Yes. All right. And then?

Nelly Bondy

Well, finally we arrived . . . in some kind of open place. There wasn't even a station, just a shed.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And we were told to get down . . . off the car.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And to take along our luggage.

David Boder

To take along your luggage.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, the next thing . . .

David Boder

How much luggage were you having?

Nelly Bondy

I just had a brief knapsack. That was all.

David Boder

Yes. All right.

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . when we had gotten down from the cars we were told to leave the luggage behind . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . in the rain.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And then we were chosen out . . . just . . .

David Boder

"Selected" is the word.

Nelly Bondy

Select, yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

But we didn't know then, you see.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

They took out old and sick people . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . and put them on carsâ on . . . ah . . . those . . .

David Boder

Trucks?

Nelly Bondy

. . . trucks. Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And the othersâwe were taken into ranges of five each, and we were marched into the camp.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Ah . . . for the others, we never heard about them again.

David Boder

You did not hear about the other people?

Nelly Bondy

No.

David Boder

No . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, we got into the camp. It was terrible. The first impression of this camp . . . it was Birkenau.

David Boder

Oh, it was Birkenau. Yes . . . where is Birkenau?

Nelly Bondy

Birkenau is some . . . some kilometers from Ausâ . . . from Auschwitz.

David Boder

And Auschwitz is where?

Nelly Bondy

In east Upper Silesia.

David Boder

In east Upper Silesia . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . Upper Silesia . . .

David Boder

Who has it now?

Nelly Bondy

Poland

David Boder

Poland has it now?

Nelly Bondy

Yes . . . Yes

David Boder

So that means from France, from Drancyâhow you call it in elegant Frenchâyou travelled . . .

Nelly Bondy

I couldn't . . . I couldn't tell you the exact distance, but I know it was . . .

David Boder

Yes, I know. I couldn't . . . but you went all through Germany . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes, yes.

David Boder

. . . into Poland?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Into occupied Poland . . .

Nelly Bondy

That's right.

David Boder

And there you were put down in . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes . . .

David Boder

Birkenau?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

And they separated some people and so on. Who do you think they separatedâthe older people?

Nelly Bondy

Well, yes. Older and sick people.

David Boder

And children?

Nelly Bondy

Children, too [her voice becomes low].

David Boder

And they took the children?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

And then you, who did they leave on the other side?

Nelly Bondy

Well, they left people who were able to work . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . who were in good healthâwho were strong.

David Boder

Now can you [tell] us [about] the first day you started in Birkenau.

Nelly Bondy

We arrived in the evening. It was about six o'clock and . . . [pause]

David Boder

Yes, yes.

Nelly Bondy

The first thing to be done was to be tattooed. You see, they preferred . . . they tattooed the number on our left forearm.

David Boder

You have a tattoo number?

Nelly Bondy

No. I got it cut . . . I got it cut out when I came back. [she shows a rather bad scar]

David Boder

How did you take it out?

Nelly Bondy

It was quite an operation. It had to be cut out. It was very deep.

David Boder

It was . . . it was cut out and then you had some skin re-grafted?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, yes. That's it.

David Boder

Aha . . . also you have then on your left arm . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes . . .

David Boder

. . . left arm you have a scar.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

From the removal of the tattoo.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Who did that for you?

Nelly Bondy

In the Hospital San Louis in Paris.

David Boder

Did they charge you any money for it?

Nelly Bondy

No.

David Boder

. . . did many people remove their tattoos?

Nelly Bondy

No, almost none of them.

David Boder

And where did they graft the skin from? It must have . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, he just . . . he . . . no, he cut it out and "grafted" it together.

David Boder

And sewed it together.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

He cut out and sewed it together.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

All right. . . . and then . . . eh . . . you had the tattoo taken . . . they tattooed you the first day.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. It was the first thing.

David Boder

Yes . . . and?

Nelly Bondy

And then we went up to [unintelligible]. We did get nothing to eat, just the little bottles of so-called tea. It . . . I don't know; it was some concoction from herbs, you see.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

And . . . then we were left alone. There was no commodity, nothing at all. There was the bare floorâthat was the sand which was stamped hard.

David Boder

"Commodity," you mean no toilet facilities?

Nelly Bondy

No toilet facilities, no . . . no wrappers, no rags, no . . . no bed, nothing at all.

David Boder

Ja.

Nelly Bondy

Well, we were so tired that we slept all the same.

David Boder

On the floor.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Were you separated alreadyâmen and women?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, yes. We were separated immediately upon arriving.

David Boder

Yes. Now?

Nelly Bondy

Then . . . then . . . we were . . . we were awakened the next morning. It was quite dark yet.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . .

David Boder

You can help me greatly if you now and then look. If it, the light here, lights up a bit [on the recorder] . . .

Nelly Bondy

I see.

David Boder

. . . that means you are speaking loud enough, you see.

Nelly Bondy

Oh, I see. Yes.

David Boder

Just at times. You get it? All right, go ahead.

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I understand what you want.

David Boder

Yes. [coughs] See now, from the cough it went very well [the light]. All right?

Nelly Bondy

Oh, I see now.

David Boder

Yes. Yes, you were . . . eh . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I just reflected. Ah . . . I was . . . I was think[ing] over what we did there and, yes, the first thing we were searched and we were taken . . . They took away what we still had left from . . . from handkerchiefs or some small things, and then we were all taken away all our things. All our clothing was taken away.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Absolutely everything.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And then they cut our hair.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

They . . . ah . . . with razor.

David Boder

With an electric razor?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, we . . .

David Boder

They sheared you completely?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, we were quite shaved.

David Boder

Yes . . . eh . . . your hair from the and . . .

Nelly Bondy

Every . . . everything.

David Boder

The whole body?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, the whole body.

David Boder

Yes . . . abdominal hair?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Why did they do that?

Nelly Bondy

I can't tell you. I thought first it was because of . . .

David Boder

Lice?

Nelly Bondy

. . . vermin or so.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

But . . . later on I changed my mind. I think it was the sheer malice or so.

David Boder

Chicanery?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Tell me, who did the shearing?

Nelly Bondy

They were deportees. They were . . .

David Boder

Men or women?

Nelly Bondy

Women.

David Boder

Women did the shaving?

Nelly Bondy

Yes

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

Women did it but men passed . . . through the room all the time. You see, that was the most horrible experience.

David Boder

Who were these deputies? Were they themselves . . . eh . . .

Nelly Bondy

Deportees.

David Boder

Deportees.

Nelly Bondy

No, they were deported people, yes.

David Boder

Were they Jewish deportees?

Nelly Bondy

For the most . . . yes. Most of them were Slovakian or Polian . . . or Polish.

David Boder

Slovakian or Polish?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

All right.

Nelly Bondy

Then we had to . . .

David Boder

Did they take . . . took off all your hair?

Nelly Bondy

All your hair. Absolutely everything. It took me three days to recognize my fellow . . . the fellow . . . [prisoner] with whom I had arrived.

David Boder

Oh, you couldn't recognize the face?

Nelly Bondy

I couldn't recognize them. First of all, [for] three days at least. People from . . . with whom I had been together in Drancy for months, for three months. I couldn't recognize for seven days.

David Boder

Yes. All right.

Nelly Bondy

Well, [pauses] do you want . . .

David Boder

Yes . . . go ahead. What happened then?

Nelly Bondy

Well, next we were waiting for so-called douche, a shower bath.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

We had to wait . . . in a very huge room. The room was overheated.

David Boder

What do you mean? They took you to another room?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. We were taken to another room then, and there we were [unintelligible]; the others [?] sat down and we were waiting.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Finally we got into the shower bath. It was cold.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

No soap and no towels. Nothing at all.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, you see, after three days and three nights on the train or so, we were dirty and we felt very uncomfortable. Nothing to be done. And there we had the first experience of how things were going on there. There was one woman who wanted a towel and she was beaten terribly because she had asked for it.

David Boder

Who beat her?

Nelly Bondy

That was a German deportee that knew Jewish.

David Boder

A man or a woman?

Nelly Bondy

No, a woman.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, afterwards . . .

David Boder

The "deputy" beat her?

Nelly Bondy

A deportee. Well, a deported woman.

David Boder

Yes, a deportee. Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Ja . . . yes . . .

David Boder

How did she beat her? What did she beat her with?

Nelly Bondy

With a stick. With a big stick.

David Boder

All right.

Nelly Bondy

Then we were taken to another room, and we got clothing. That's to say we got men's underwear, a shirt and a trouâ . . . a pair of trousers.

David Boder

Hum . . .

Nelly Bondy

And then we got old Russian uniforms.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

A pair pants . . . uniforms.

David Boder

Old Russian uniforms?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Old Russian uniforms, pants and a jacket.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And we got a kind of a foulard to put on our heads.

David Boder

Oh, you got a kind of headgear?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . . a . . . yes?

Nelly Bondy

Just a . . .

David Boder

A little . . . scarf?

Nelly Bondy

A little scarf. Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, as for shoes, personally, they left my own shoes because I had arrived with . . . ah . . . my skiing shoes, you see.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

But the others had to take off their shoes, and they got . . . they got old shoes with . . . ah . . . wooden soles.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

But much too big, so most of them lost them.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

The soil was sticky and . . . ah . . . they clung to the soil and they lost most of them there, and went barefooted along.

David Boder

Ja . . . That was in what month again?

Nelly Bondy

Pardon?

David Boder

What month was it?

Nelly Bondy

It was June.

David Boder

June. Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes, it was June. Then we came . . . to another block and there we were arranged into kind of a . . . well, quartersâsleeping quarters.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

They were . . . they were three . . . threeâI don't know. My English is not good enough for that.

David Boder

Three shifts?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Three . . .

David Boder

Three tiers. Yes?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

One over the other in three shifts?

Nelly Bondy

That's it. Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, anyone . . .

David Boder

But they were separate beds.

Nelly Bondy

No, of course not. In each of them could . . . two people could have slept comfortably, but we were eight for each.

David Boder

Ja . . . Wait a moment. What were they, board . . . boards?

Nelly Bondy

They were wooâ . . . yes, wood, shelves . . . wooden shelves.

David Boder

Wood . . . platforms . . . like little platforms?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, wood platforms with very little straw on it.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And that's all, and we were eight people in bed.

David Boder

How was it, about the width of a double bed here in France?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, about that.

David Boder

Ja . . . and they put eight people in one . . .

Nelly Bondy

Eight people to a bed . . .

David Boder

. . . on one board?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, with a . . .

David Boder

. . . On the same level?

Nelly Bondy

On the same level with three covers [?].

David Boder

That means on the upper level were two [?] . . .

Nelly Bondy

[speaking at the same time] . . . on the upper level . . . ah . . .

David Boder

. . . and on the top level?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

And the middle level.

Nelly Bondy

And the middle and then the . . . yes, that's it.

David Boder

What level did you get?

Nelly Bondy

The upper, the most upper.

David Boder

You got the upper . . . the most upper one. Yes?

Nelly Bondy

Well, then we remained there for a day. It was Saturday and we didn't do anything. We just lulled and they fed a kind of soup which was . . . which was concocted from herbs. How do you say in English, "ortice," Brenn-nesseln [burning, stinging nettles].

David Boder

Eh . . . ja . . . ah . . . oh . . . ah . . . from . . . "Bren-nessel." Well, I will have to translate that word. It is a . . .

Nelly Bondy

I don't know the word in English.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

You see, my English is rather . . .

David Boder

Yes. All right. And?

Nelly Bondy

Well, we remained there the whole time. Next day it was Sunday and we got a . . . vaccination against typhoid fever.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

I wasn't quite sure if it was really a vaccination but it . . . it seems . . . it appears to have really been one.

David Boder

Injection?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well then, next day we started to work. It was "out of work," "Aussenarbeit" they called it . . .

David Boder

Yes. Outdoor work [off-camp work].

Nelly Bondy

Outdoor work, yes. We had to walk about . . . ah . . . an hour and a half to get to the working place, and we had to demolish a house.

David Boder

Oh, demolish . . .

Nelly Bondy

To take off bricks and . . . and rubbish . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . and so on, with our hands, of course.

David Boder

In the city?

Nelly Bondy

No, it was not in the city. It was some . . . some deserted spot out in the woods or . . . so I couldn't tell you exactly where it was.

David Boder

What do you mean, with your hands? They gave you some hammers? They gave you some . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, not very much. We had some shovel and some spikes. That was all.

David Boder

And the house had to be taken apart, demolished?

Nelly Bondy

Pardon?

David Boder

They had . . . you had to demolish that?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, we had to demolish a house.

David Boder

To wreck itâwhat we call it.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Yes, that's it, wreck it.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

I remember, we had to sink in a well which was quite ready to function. Well, we had to destroy it. They took a big . . .

David Boder

A well?

Nelly Bondy

A well, yes.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

They took a big trunk of a tree.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

We had to . . . we, about twenty people, to lift it . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . and to . . . well, to . . .

David Boder

To break the wall?

Nelly Bondy

To break the wall of this . . .

David Boder

Well, like the old Romans used to take . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes, something [in] this kind of way [chuckle].

David Boder

Ja . . . used to take cities . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

. . . with a battering ram.

Nelly Bondy

[laughs] That's it exactly. Yes.

David Boder

Ja . . . Yes, all right.

Nelly Bondy

Well, we did that for a week or so; but personally I didn't remain there. Jusâ . . . when we had arrived, even before we were tattooed, there was a young Nazi. He was quite a boy. He came to ask for somebody who knew English.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

We were three, and he took down our names; and he chose me afterwards. And so I was removed from there, and I came to Auschwitz to the Staatsgebaude.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . to be . . . to be working in the office.

David Boder

Yes. Why did they need English there?

Nelly Bondy

Well, he had [apparently someone?] who wanted to take English lessons.

David Boder

Oh!

Nelly Bondy

He learned . . .

David Boder

He didn't . . . they didn't need you as a interpreter there?

Nelly Bondy

No, but anyway I was . . . safe, so . . .

David Boder

Ja . . . They wanted somebody . . . take English lessons. All right.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. One of the Nazis wanted to take English lessons.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

He never did afterwards, but anyway I was working in the office.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And so . . . so I came to the office, and I have been working in the administration of the camp.

David Boder

Did they give you other clothes?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I got better clothing. I got these striped clothes, you see.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And then I was allowed to grow my hair a bit, not very . . . very much, but until the . . .

David Boder

. . . the bare skull disappeared?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Yes.

David Boder

All right.

Nelly Bondy

And while I've been working there ever since the evacuation of Auschwitz.

David Boder

Until the . . .

Nelly Bondy

Until Auschwitz was evacuated on January the 18th in '45.

David Boder

And did the . . .

Nelly Bondy

When the Russians appeared . . .

David Boder

And [to] where was Auschwitz . . . evacuated?

Nelly Bondy

Well . . . we went . . . I was personally sent to RavensbrÃck.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Others were sent to other camps. The men were sent to Gross-Rosen, to Dachau . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . to Mauthausen.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, all kinds of camps.

David Boder

Um . . . hum . . .

Nelly Bondy

We were speeded [rushed] from here [?] from that time onwards. You see, because presently [?] . . .

David Boder

You went from the . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . from . . . after we had left Auschwitz.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

Because personally I had had a relatively good time in Auschwitz, you see working in the office.

David Boder

I mean, relatively good conditions.

Nelly Bondy

Conditions, yes. I had a . . . when I was in . . . eh . . . the office, I had a bed for myself. We had a . . . a shower room. We had showers twice week.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

They were . . .

David Boder

Warm showers?

Nelly Bondy

Warm shower, yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

There was . . . ah . . . hot water to wash oneself with.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Whereas in Birkenau there was no water at all. When we came home from the . . . "outdoor" [off-camp] work, we were . . . we were dirty and thirsty and everything; and there was no water, neither to drink nor to . . . to wash ourselves in.

David Boder

Yes . . . [loud noise] Yes, and . . . ?

Nelly Bondy

Well, ah . . . [loud noise].

David Boder

And?

Nelly Bondy

When we had left the camp, first we had to go on foot for four days.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

We hadn't got any . . . anything to eat with us, except one loaf of bread each, and not even everyone had got it.

David Boder

Yes . . .

David Boder

Were you walking men and women?

Nelly Bondy

No, only women.

David Boder

Only women.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. And . . .

David Boder

Eh . . . did anybody get sick?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I'm sorry to say that a few who couldn't follow the . . . the others were shot.

David Boder

Were shot?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Have you seen that yourself?

Nelly Bondy

I have seen one.

David Boder

You have seen one.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Eh . . . who shot her?

Nelly Bondy

The Nazis. The guards who accompanied us.

David Boder

. . . What were they . . . shooting them like sentenced peopleâputting them to the wall?

Nelly Bondy

Oh, no, no! She fell down somewhere and he just shot at her. That was all.

David Boder

Aha . . . yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

They were on all sides. The . . . all the route was bordered with . . . corpses, you see.

David Boder

And whose corpses were that?

Nelly Bondy

Well, they were men who had to be "leaded" before . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . and who had been shot like that.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And in one of these villages I saw a sleigh quite covered with corpses; but they were . . . they had been . . . they had been . . . ah . . .

David Boder

Frozen?

Nelly Bondy

Not quite. No. Partly frozen, but just . . . not just propret [neatly], just . . . any way . . . not . . .

David Boder

Ja . . . ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . not laid or . . .

David Boder

Ja . . . Just thrown on thereâloaded.

Nelly Bondy

Just thrown on it. Yes. And over [?] there was an arm peeping out on one side and a head from the other side. [pause]

David Boder

And whose corpses, you think, were they?

Nelly Bondy

They were . . . they were interned people who had been evacuated before.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

People who either couldn't follow the . . . the others or who had tried to escape and who went one pace . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . too much . . . ah . . . to the side, you see, and they were shot.

David Boder

. . . and were shot. And so from Birkenau where did you get?

Nelly Bondy

Well, from Birkenau . . . no, I have been removed to Auschwitz.

David Boder

Yes, and from Auschwitz?

Nelly Bondy

And from Auschwitz, well, we went to a little . . . ah . . . radio station which was called Losmar [?] somewhere in Silesia.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And from there we were loaded on these kind of freight cars again.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And we were sent to RavensbrÃck.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Only our conditions were very bad. The . . . the car would small . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And we had . . . not all of us had a cover with her.

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I frostbit my feet on this occasion.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, we arrived in RavensbrÃck and they lodged us in . . . in one big room where there would have been room for perhaps five hundred people, but we were twelve hundred.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

There wasn't even room to stretch out your feet. We couldn't sleep. We just sat crouched together on the floor and just try to . . . to try . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . to make the best of it.

David Boder

What, were you sitting back to back?

Nelly Bondy

Back to back or . . . it was terrible.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . you needn't get up, you see, and get out, because as soon as you left your place it was . . . the room was taken up immediately, and . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

There was no means to get back. It was very, very hard.

David Boder

. . . was it clean?

Nelly Bondy

No, of course not. Nothing was . . .

David Boder

Did they watch that you had no lice, or so?

Nelly Bondy

No, no. We hadn't even water to wash ourselves with. Nothing.

David Boder

So these people had lice?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, of course. They were quite covered with lice.

David Boder

What?

Nelly Bondy

We were covered with them. All of us.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

We remained there for twelve days; and then we were marched into the very camp of RavensbrÃck

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And there into a block where it was a bit better. Well, there was no washing conditions but we could get . . . get into other blocks. I got to the blocks where the French lived and there I could have a wash if I arranged . . . if I tried to arrange that. We were three in a bed, and the food was . . . ah . . . eatable.

David Boder

Was eatable?

Nelly Bondy

It was eatable.

David Boder

Yes?

Nelly Bondy

But we didn't remain very long. We remained forâI couldn't tellâthree or four weeks, and then were sent to another camp.

David Boder

Why? Did the Russians again come near or what?

Nelly Bondy

No. I think they had too many people there.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

So they sent us to a camp. It was called Malchow which was dependent on the camp of RavensbrÃck. It's to . . . it's there in Metelâ . . . in . . . it's in the Mark in Germany, you see.

David Boder

Ja . . . yes. It was a shâ . . . a . . . a branch of it.

Nelly Bondy

Yes, a branch of it [chuckle] .

David Boder

Ja . . . well?

Nelly Bondy

Well, . . . ah . . . there we were starving, absolutely starving. We got breadâthree slices of . . . of dry bread a day and once a day a kind of a so-called soup. It was water where they had just thrown some vegetables which were not even cleanâwhich were not washed. And the soup . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

It was never warm. It was never cooked.

David Boder

Um . . .

Nelly Bondy

The water was tepid and there was a . . . a sort of . . . of gade [fish?] you see. You couldn't eat it.

David Boder

Ja . . . yes . . . the sediments of the . . .

Nelly Bondy

The sediments of the earth and I don't know what.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Anyway, we couldn't eat it. We were really starving there.

David Boder

Um . . .

Nelly Bondy

We had mattresses on the floor, no beds; and we were five on one mattress.

David Boder

Five? On one?

Nelly Bondy

Five people on one . . . on two, excuse me, on two.

David Boder

Five on two mattresses?

Nelly Bondy

On two mattresses.

David Boder

Ja . . . well?

Nelly Bondy

Well, we remained there for two . . . ah . . . I think the beginning of March, and then were sent on to the . . . to a camp of Taucha[?] near Leipzig.

David Boder

Kancha?

Nelly Bondy

Taucha.

David Boder

Kaucha . . .

Nelly Bondy

It's five kilometers from Leipzig.

David Boder

You spell it K-R . . .

Nelly Bondy

T-A-U-C-H-A

David Boder

Yes. All right.

Nelly Bondy

Well, these conditions were better. We had . . . ah . . . one bed for two and even the food was better. It was cleanly cooked and after this camp of Malchow . . . eh . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . it seemed a paradise.

David Boder

Well, were you doing some work?

Nelly Bondy

We didn't. No. We couldn't. We couldn't work. We were much too exhausted and . . . we couldn't work.

David Boder

You were exhausted. By the way, you wear glasses. Did you have your glasses with you in camp?

Nelly Bondy

Well, they took them away.

David Boder

They took your glasses?

Nelly Bondy

They took them away. I got other ones later on because, as a special office worker, I write with glasses, of course. I couldn't go . . . glasses for my eyes. And they spoiled my eyes with them . . .

David Boder

Oh, I see.

Nelly Bondy

. . . because now I have to wear the . . . the glasses all the time; but formerly I didn't.

David Boder

Aha . . . yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

They even took away my toothbrush.

David Boder

Took away your toothbrush?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Everything. Absolutely everything.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, . . . ah . . . in . . . ah . . . Taucha we remained only for ten days and then there we were marched on; but we didn't know where to, because we knew . . . Of course, we never had a newspaper but the rumors were spreading around rather quickly, but . . . ah . . . my . . . unfortunately very exaggerated rumors and . . . ah . . . according . . .

David Boder

Unfortunately?

Nelly Bondy

Unfortunately. The rumors were exaggerated.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Because according to the ones of . . . ah . . . the Americans were in Leipzig and the Russians were approaching from the other side. We never knew . . .

David Boder

The truth.

Nelly Bondy

. . . what is what. Yes.

David Boder

Ja . . . did the Nazis know?

Nelly Bondy

No.

David Boder

Did the guards know?

Nelly Bondy

The guards knew, of course, but they didn't tell us.

David Boder

Aha . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, we had to leave Taucha one evening very quickly and I had a lot of trouble because I couldn't walk. My foot had been frozen and I had very difficulty to walk. I . . . I marched along with them for two days but then I simply couldn't and I knew I would be shot.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

So I escaped.

David Boder

How?

Nelly Bondy

We were then in a town called Oschatz, which is between Leipzig and Dresden. And they had moved us there to a kind of stadium.

David Boder

Yes . . . Sportpalast.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

It was elevated. It was outside of the town and a bit elevated, and so we had a view of the town.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

There were stairs leading downstairs and they had a Nazi guard on every "kind" of staircase.

David Boder

And what kind of clothing were you wearing?

Nelly Bondy

Well, I had my own clothing . . .

David Boder

How? It didn't have stripes?

Nelly Bondy

. . . because in one of the camps . . . I have no . . . no, I had no more stripes.

Nelly Bondy

I had got a dress, a civilian dress . . . a civilian dress [repeats] with a big black . . . no . . . with a big white cross marked with a painting on the . . . on the back.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

But I didn't want it on so I put the cross inside.

David Boder

Ja . . . who gave you that dress?

Nelly Bondy

In one of the camps, in Malchow. I had been to the . . . hospital . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . because of my foot.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

They had taken away all my . . . my dresses, and when I got out from the hospital I got that dress.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I had made a kind of a jacket from my cover.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

I had made it myself.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

And we got our escape. Well, there was a . . . an airplane attack. These were American airplanes who were attacking the place and there was a kind of a . . .

David Boder

Panic?

Nelly Bondy

. . . panic. Yes. And suddenly I say that one of the staircases were not guarded, so I went downstairs quietly, and downstairs I found a . . . how do you call it in the Frenâ . . . ah . . . in English? An abri [shelter].

David Boder

What?

Nelly Bondy

An abri.

David Boder

. . . oh!

Nelly Bondy

A Luftschutz [?] Keller.

David Boder

What?

Nelly Bondy

A Luftschutz [?] Keller.

David Boder

Uh-huh . . . aha . . . an anti-air raid . . . shelter.

Nelly Bondy

That's it. Yes. There . . .

David Boder

An air raid shelter.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I found it by chance. I didn't what it was and I went there and I heard some voices and I was rather [?] afraid. But it was too late. The people were coming near so I couldn't do anything but just stay down there. Well, they took me for a civilian or they pretended about it. I didn't know.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I stayed there till . . .

David Boder

Oh, was the air raid shelter for people?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, for civilians.

David Boder

Yes. Outside the camp.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. It was out of the camp. There was . . . it was no camp, you see. It was just a . . .

David Boder

Then was it a kind of an armory? Was it?

Nelly Bondy

No. It was an open place. It was a stadiumâa sport place.

David Boder

Oh. Oh . . . just a open . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Open air.

David Boder

Yes, a open air stadium; and there they kept you?

Nelly Bondy

And there they kept us just in order to . . . to give us some rest. We marched the whole night.

David Boder

Oh, oh, oh, yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And it was the [by the] moon that we should get up again . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . but we had nothing to eat, you see. They didn't give us anything to eat.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

So I went downstairs there in this panic and I got into this shelter and I remained there till the thing was over.

David Boder

Hum . . .

Nelly Bondy

I met some prisoners of war.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

They were Dutch and I asked for a French one, and they brought along a French one who asked if I had escaped from upstairs. I said 'Yes," and if he could do anything for me. He said he couldn't personally, but I should get . . . try to get out of the country. There were lots of French prisoners of war, and . . . ah . . .

David Boder

Also . . . also those who ran away.

Nelly Bondy

No. They were just . . . working in the camps or the fields, or so.

David Boder

Yes. And?

Nelly Bondy

And . . . if I trust one of them they would surely help me.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

But I was so weak I couldn't walk, so when the thing was over . . .

David Boder

You couldn't walk?

Nelly Bondy

I couldn't walk. No.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . because of my foot. When the . . . when the attack was over I . . . I just went . . . marched out of the thing. There was a Nazi guard . . . on the . . . at the entrance; but he didn't . . . he . . . pay any attention to me. So I walked out. And I went to the church. I had located the church from upstairs. You see, from this place I knew about the direction. I went in there, and I remained there for three days.

David Boder

How did you remain in the church?

Nelly Bondy

I hid between benches downstairs. You see, I lay down on the floor.

David Boder

Didn't people come by . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes, they did.

David Boder

. . . for services?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, they did.

David Boder

Was it a Catholic . . . ah . . .

Nelly Bondy

It was . . . no, it was a Protestant Church.

David Boder

A Protestant Church. People were coming for service?

Nelly Bondy

Eh . . . there was no . . . there was just . . . there was . . . there wasn't . . . [interference of some kind]

David Boder

You say you went into the church and spent . . . you went into a church and spent three days.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I lay down . . .

David Boder

Now let us stop here. I will check the reel.

Nelly Bondy

OK.

David Boder

This is a Illinois Institute of Technology recording. Paris, August the 22nd?

Nelly Bondy

Yes . . .

David Boder

August . . . [ends abruptly]

David Boder

Thursday, August the 22nd, in Paris; 22nd, 1946. It is a continuation of Spool 60. Mrs. Nelly Bondy . . . reporting. All right, Mrs. Bondy. So you . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, I think I was at the church, didn't I?

David Boder

You . . . you . . . you ran away during a air raid.

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

You hid in a air raid shelter, as far as I remember. You came out. You manage . . . eh . . . you met . . . you met a French prisoner who suggested that there are French prisoners on the countryside and that all was where, in . . . What was the name of the place?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, that was . . . ah . . . Oschatz, near Leipzig.

David Boder

Near Leipzig. In Oschatz near Leipzig; and you went to a church, and you hid in a church for three days.

Nelly Bondy

I . . . that's it. Yes.

David Boder

What were you eating?

Nelly Bondy

Nothing. I hadn't got anything more to eat; and that's why I had to get out finally, because I was hungry.

David Boder

Did you have anything to drink?

Nelly Bondy

Nothing. No.

David Boder

Now can you tell me, how does a person feel who starves for three days?

Nelly Bondy

[automobile honks] Nothing at all. You don't remember. You don't think that you have nothing to eat . . . [?] very rarely, you see.

David Boder

Did you sleep? [Note: Wire broke. One inch lost. Apparently no words.]

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I slept a lot.

David Boder

Did you dream that you were eating?

Nelly Bondy

No. No. I didn't dream at all. I . . .

David Boder

You did not? You did not dream at all?

Nelly Bondy

No, I was absolutely exhausted. I had been walking with a sore foot for about twenty-four hours.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I . . . I couldn't do anything. I was . . . my body was aching all over. When I wanted to turn from one side to the otherâjust remember that . . . I was on the ground, you see, the wooden ground. It hurt terribly.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I didn't . . . I didn't even think of eating through the third day. Then I thought I . . . I was obliged to get something. Otherwise I . . . I would be sick, or I would be found or something . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

So I got . . .

David Boder

I went see . . . [?]

Nelly Bondy

I went to see the Protestant chaplain.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And asked . . . I told him my story. I was quite . . . openly and asked him to help me. Well, he would have done, but he was terribly afraid of the Gestapo.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

So he just gave me some biscuits and I even wanted to save some for later; he didn't allow me. He wanted me to eat them immediately because he was afraid if they were found on me they would ask me who . . . where I had got them from.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, he sent me out to a Catholic . . . to the Catholic . . . eh . . . priest.

David Boder

He spoke German? He was a German?

Nelly Bondy

A German, of course.

David Boder

Now tell me something about the conversation. What did he say?

Nelly Bondy

Well, first when I got in we shook hands and he was very polite. "What can I do for you?"

David Boder

Hum? . . . he knew? Did you right away tell him who you were?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I did.

David Boder

Did you tell him you were Jewish?

Nelly Bondy

Ah . . . no, I didn't.

David Boder

No. Did he ask?

Nelly Bondy

He asked . He asked, but I told him that I was Roman Catholic . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . but that my husband had been a Jewâa French Jew.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And that I was born in Vienna, which is a fact.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . which accounted for my good German, of course.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

And he said, "Well, if you are a Catholic . . ." [pause]

David Boder

Yes. "If you are Catholic . . ."

Nelly Bondy

"If you are a Catholic, we have a Roman Catholic priest here."

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

I said, "Oh, that's fine. I didn't know and I didn't want to ask so many people."

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

So he gave me the address.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I went to see him.

David Boder

Was there a Catholic Church in town?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, there was, but I didn't see it.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, this young priest was very kind, and I told him the same thing.

David Boder

Did you tell him you were a Catholic?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Do you know . . . eh . . . enough of the Catholic religion to . . . take a chance on it?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I know something.

David Boder

You know. Yes. All right.

Nelly Bondy

He . . . gave me some money and his mother brought me some food . . . some . . . some sandwiches.

David Boder

And you told him that you were run . . . running away from the camp?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I told him.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

He even told me, "You're not the first one. You're not the first one. You are the second or the third I've . . ."

David Boder

The Catholic priest gave you some money, and his mother?

Nelly Bondy

And his mother gave me some sandwiches.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And he advised me to get out of the townâto get to the country. And I did, and I walked . . . ah . . . for an hour or two; but I didn't get very far because I couldn't walk. Always the same thing, and so I fell down in the ditch near the road.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, there I was lying there for I don't know how many . . . I don't know how long a time, till somebody came up to me and asked me what I . . . what I was doing here. So I . . . I told him that I was . . . taking a rest.

David Boder

Ja . . . and who was it?

Nelly Bondy

He was a refugee from . . . ah . . . Russian-occupied Germany.

David Boder

And was he . . . also running away?

Nelly Bondy

No, he was a civilian.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

He had been evacuatâ . . . evacuated till there by the government.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I asked him at the same time if he couldn't . . . ah . . . leave [give] me a room to sleep in this night. I explained to him that I had hurt my leg and that I couldn't walk; and he said, "You see, we are very crowded and my wife and myself. We are just refugees and we haven't got any room for ourselves. You just go and see the mayor." Of course . . .

David Boder

The mayor?

Nelly Bondy

The mayor. Yes.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

That was the least of things I wanted to do.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

But . . . there wasn't anything for me to do to leave here; and then there came a friend of his with a bicycle, and so his friend took me on the bicycle and led me to the mayor. The mayor wasn't there, but his wife was there; and I told her that I had . . . I had to be . . . to be someplace. I couldn't walk. That I was a refugee myself from . . . I don't remember what I told her.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And she advised me to go to "that and that" hotel and to get a room there. Well, I didn't get a room, but I was sent to a big dormitory where there were many other refugees.

David Boder

Oh, there were already German refugees at that time?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Civilian. Oh, lots of them, of course.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

That was in . . . April.

David Boder

Yes, in '45.

Nelly Bondy

'45.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, I got there into a big . . .

David Boder

And all in that dressâin that blue dress from the hospital?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, yes. Well, they took . . . they took me . . . they took me up very friendly and were very kind and I remained there for . . . and I told the landlord that I would go away the next morning. Well, I slept till noon, and . . . I tried to get away but I couldn't walk, so I turned back.

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

And you told the landlord that . . . you told the landlord that you are going away?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I tried to get away but, as I couldn't walk, I turned back and told him if he could keep me another night. The landlord wasn't in and his wife said, "Why yes, of course. Just get up again and come on down." I did but . . . an hour or so later the landlord came [unintelligible] and ask me for papers.

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, I hadn't got any papers, and I told him that I had . . . ah . . . lost them all.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

So he said, "Well, if you have lost them we'll call for the police, because . . . you understand we are at wartime and there are a lot of spies getting around everywhere and . . . we'll see to that." And he told the others to take care that I shouldn't run away. Well, there was no danger for that because I had a high fever. I felt it an . . . well, I fell back on my straw and I slept. And I was wakened up by two policemen who asked me what . . . what I was doing here and how I had come here and so on. Well, I told them the same thing, that I had escaped from Leipzig because the Russians had taken Leipzig, and . . . ah . . . they asked for my name. I gave my maiden name. And they asked for the address. What I'm trying to doâ

David Boder

Your . . . your maiden name is Strasser.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. It's a German nameâStrasser.

David Boder

Yes, yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, they asked what I was doing in Leipzig. I knew that there was a factory for munitions in Taucha where I had been in camp, because . . . ah . . . comrades of mine had been working there. And I knew, too, that the Americans are already there so he couldn't . . .

David Boder

Verify?

Nelly Bondy

. . . check. Yes.

David Boder

All right.

Nelly Bondy

Well, anyway, I invented a street according to the name of this station, you see, and it worked out all right. There seems to be a street like that in Leipzig, and . . . ah . . . that was all he asked me; but he said he couldn't . . . "You can't remain . . . that's all right now. We'll leave you alone, but you remain here without papers." So I said, "What shall I do?" "Well, we don't know. We don't know. Anyway, you can't . . . you can't . . . roam the country without any papers." So I proposed myself, I'd get back to Oschatz and see the NSV, which was the Nazi Social Volkswohlfahrt, you see.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

And . . . I suggested that I could see him and ask him if he could help me. And they thought that was a good idea. And next morning I was getting away to Oschatz in the [rumbling noises] milk van. The . . . the town was taking . . . just taking the milk to . . . to town [?] [unintelligible].

David Boder

He was walking?

Nelly Bondy

No. On the car. On the car which was taking the milk to the town.

David Boder

Yes. [noises end]

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . they took me along, and I really dropped into the.. this social . . . Nazi social . . .

David Boder

. . . welfare?

Nelly Bondy

. . . welfare, office and told them about the lost papers and they said I should . . . should go to the town hall. Well, I did, and I signed a declaration de [unintelligible French word, obviously an affidavit].

David Boder

That they . . . that the . . .

Nelly Bondy

That . . . ah . . .

David Boder

[In German] that you have lost . . .

Nelly Bondy

[In English] Yes, that I had lost all my papers and I invented all kinds of . . . of ration stamps and . . . ah . . . they were printed so I filled out everything, you see.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I told . . .

David Boder

But didn't you have you tattoo?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, but I had long sleeves.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

It happened that they didn't . . . they didn't have the idea to ask for that.

David Boder

Ja . . . and you filled out . . .

Nelly Bondy

I filled out that and . . . ah . . . they sent . . . that was the town hall. Then they sent me to the police. I went there, and he just told me, "Well, I can't help you. If you loâ . . . if you lose you papers I can't help you now. You know very well that you can't get them back."

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, anyway . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

I asked him, "That's . . . that's all right; but I've got to go to sleep some place. I can't walk and I haven't eaten for two days and I'm hungry and I'm sleepy and it's . . . they . . . you must tell me where to go to sleep." So they indicated [to]me a kind of school, kind of . . . sort of a shelter [?] . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . for German civilians, and he told me again [?], "I don't know if the Director will take you in without papers, but you might try." I went there and saw the Director, and . . . the same thing, "I can't take you without . . . without papers." So I said, "Liâ . . . listen, I have been to see the police and they told me to see you." So he said, "Well, I'll take you until tomorrow, but I'll ask for someâan identification [?] paper for you from the police. Do you . . . do recall this to me this afternoon." I said, "OK."

David Boder

Remind me this afternoon?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, he put me into a small room. There were mattresses, and I got two covers, and it was clean. Everything was all right. We were about . . . ah . . . perhaps fifteen people in this room. It was a school room.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . in the afternoon there came a German sanitary officer. So . . . and he looked at me and I must have a high fever and I must have looked very flushed, because he came to me and said, "What's wrong with you? Anything wrong?" I said, "Yes, my foot." "Let me see that." Well, you see, I hadn't taken off my shoe for several days and I was really most unhappy when I saw this foot. It was sore and swollen and he saw and he . . . he told me, "We'll have to get you to the hospital."

David Boder

Hum . . .

Nelly Bondy

But I didn't want to [go] there because of this tattoo.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

I was afraid. If I had to take off my clothes, then everything would be . . . ah . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . bad. So . . . ah . . . I insisted on . . . on just remaining and I say, "If you leave me alone and just . . . ah . . . leave me alone on this mattress and if I haven't got to walk for miles and miles it will be all right." Well, I succeeded, and he . . . he made me a . . . a bandage he . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . disinfected it and made me a good bandage and told me, "Now certainly don't move and just remain . . . remain . . . stretched out. Don't walk on this foot."

David Boder

Was he a physician?

Nelly Bondy

Well see, he must have been a student of medicine, you see.

David Boder

Ja, a medico or something.

Nelly Bondy

Yes, a medical student, probably. Well, the director orders him [listened to him] and . . . and I said to him, "You see, you wanted me . . . you wanted me to remind you of this paper for me for the police." He said, "Yes, that's all right," and he said, "You . . ." I had to go to the police tomorrow for my papers. So he says, "No, you won't bother. Don't bother. You just remain here and I'll take care of that," and then said . . . ah . . . in quite another tone, "Well, you see, I didn't know your foot was as bad as that."

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

"Kindly excuse."

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, I remained there for a few days, but suddenly it was . . . well, then they even opened a kind of hospital for me. There was another lady, too, who had some . . . something wrong with her foot and we were put there. I was afraid to have . . . to have had to undress and they would see my tattoo, but this kind of hospital, a kind of nursery, was not much better than this big room except that there were nurses and hadn't [to?] go and fetch our food ourselves.

Nelly Bondy

We remained there for . . . I remained there for a week or so and then the Russians were approaching and we were told to evacuate the . . . the town. I tried to walk. I couldn't so I turned back. It was four in the morning. I turned back into my bed and remained there. A nurse found me at five in the morning and said, "But dear me, you . . . you can't stay. You must get away." I said, "I can't walk." So she told me there was a train leaving at six. The station was not very far away and she said it would be better on the train if I would be able to walk to the station. I said yes. Well, they put . . .

David Boder

They took you, of course, for a Christian?

Nelly Bondy

Of course.

David Boder

For a Catholic?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

For a Catholic. For a German.

David Boder

For a civilian evacuee?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Otherwise I would never have managed. I got on this train, and when we got off from the train we had to walk. I had a . . .

David Boder

Well, how long did you go on that train?

Nelly Bondy

Not very far, about . . . ah . . . fifteen, twenty-five kilometer.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

It wasn't very far, and . . . ah . . . I had heard on the train that the town of Grimma was occupied by the Americans. So I had . . . ah . . . made up my mind to go there; and when we got off the train I asked where it was. So they told me, "It's this way, but you can't get there. It's occupied by the enemy."

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, I was . . . I didn't . . . I went all the same. I took the direction and . . . ah . . . once on the way I was stopped. He said, "Where do you want to go?" I said, "I want to go there." "You can't!" "Why?"

David Boder

Who stopped you?

Nelly Bondy

It was a . . .

David Boder

Militia?

Nelly Bondy

I don't remember if it was a Nazi guard or who it was. Yes. It was some person in a uniform. I forgot. I don't know what it was. Wehrmacht something.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

He said, "You can't go there. It's occupied." I said, "But where should I go to? I've been turning around for weeks or months now. I've had quite enough of this stuff. I want, even if it's occupied by the American, I don't want . . . I don't mind, and I'll get there and settle down someplace. I've got enough and I . . . I don't want to . . . to be . . . to continue walking on the . . . on the road." He said, "But you can't. You can't. Its verboten. Well, some . . . then somebody else was arguing with him and I slipped behind his back and I went on all the same.

David Boder

Ja . . . and what was the other arguing with? The same thing?

Nelly Bondy

The same thing, of course.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

I went on and I came to a . . . to a small place where there was a kind of a shelter again for civilians. That's a kind of place where you take in people, you see, German civilians who were displaced.

David Boder

Ja . . . a Herberge.

Nelly Bondy

Well, yes. Ah . . .

David Boder

A shelter house?

Nelly Bondy

A shelter house. It was a school which was turned . . . which had been turned . . .

David Boder

Eh . . . turned in a shelter house.

Nelly Bondy

There was a . . . there was a great disorder. Nobody was asking any questions so I took just a bed which was free and I put myself there, and at noon I went to fetch some soup and . . . ah . . . that nobody took care of me. Next morning, at ten the next morning, somebody told us . . . we have to get away, to get back to Oschatz where we came from because the Americans had . . . the Russians . . . no. The Americans did not approach here, but Oschatz had not been taken in by the Russians so we had to get back. Well, when we got out I just . . . there was a "crucial way," you see, at the . . . on the right.

David Boder

A cross road, yes?

Nelly Bondy

A cross road on my . . . on the right. The direction was unmarkunge [unmarked] and to my left it was back to Oschatz, so I found out where to go. I didn't want to go back and I was afraid to go ahead because I was afraid that people who would . . . who would . . . join the enemy would be shot. So I didn't want to be shot after two years of Auschwitz, and I was just thinking it over when I saw a group of French prisoners of war who were taking this road. So I called to them, "Where are you going?"

David Boder

In French?

Nelly Bondy

French, yes. "Why, of course, to the Americans." I said, "Oh, I'll . . . I'll join you." "Well, come along if you want to." And they waited for me. They were a group of four men and two women, and . . .

David Boder

French women?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, French prisoners of war.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Political prisoners.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And they were going . . . they were marching there and they took me along but then I saw that they would march much quicker without me because I . . . I was . . . ah . . . walking in a slipper which a soldier . . . a German soldier had given me. I couldn't even take my . . . my shoe off.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

So I said to them, "I don't want to bother you. You just walk ahead and I'll follow you even if its some distance. It's of not importance." But this group was nice. It was my good luck because they slipped through everywhere. There were German troops on the roads and who were taking in civilians and they were some . . . some paces ahead of me and every time when I came that . . . some such post I said, "Well, I belong to this group. I'm a French political prisoner," and that was all right, so I slipped through.

David Boder

And how did they let the French go through?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, they let the French political . . . the . . . the men wore uniforms, you see.

David Boder

And they let them go to the American . . .

Nelly Bondy

They let them go, yes. Well, the war was more or less over.

David Boder

Aha . . .

Nelly Bondy

It was end . . . it was end of April . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

They knew there was something . . . there was nothing to be done.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, I had to walk a long way. I had to walk some twenty-five kilometers till I reached . . . ah . . . Grimma in Saxony. Grimma is not very far from Leipzig. Well . . . ah . . . there was a bridge which had been blown up by the Germans when they retreated. The bridge was . . . ah . . . part of the bridge was going down into the water, and the Gerâ . . . the Americans had put ladders up there and that was how people got over.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And there were American guards. I came to see them and . . . ah . . . I spoke English and asked them if I could get over. "But who are you?" I said, "I'm a French political prisoner." "Well, I'll ask the captain for that. I haven't got any instructions for you. We just have instructions to pass over the prisoners of war." The captain came back and told me, "I'm extremely sorry for you, but so far I haven't got any instructions for political prisoners, just for prisoners of war." I said, "What shall I do? I haven't any money. I haven't got any papers. I have got nothing to eat. Couldn't you take me over? I have a bad foot and I need a doctor." "I'm extremely sorry, I can't. I can't. Come back tomorrow. Perhaps I'll have such instructions by then." Next morning I came back. Yes, I slept . . .

David Boder

Where did you spend the night?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Yes. Just . . . I want to talk about that. I found a group of Italians and I speak Italian so I . . . ah . . . they took me in. They gave me something to eat and they had a kind of barn where they were sleeping. They were five or six, and they arranged a corner for me, and I spent the night there. Next morning I went down again to the bridge and asked the captain again, but he said "No, no. I haven't got any instructions as yet. It might last two or three days." And he suggested that I should go to the country to a farm and to remain there, but I found a kind of barn in a house which had been bombed out, but part of it was still standing. So I found a room there and I was quite, more or less comfortable up there.

David Boder

What did you eat?

Nelly Bondy

There was a . . . there was another group of French prisoners who brought us something to eat. I don't know how they managed to . . . to get food, but they did get it. There was one who came up every day with some . . . ah . . . meat or some vegetables and they "entertained" a kind of stove in a . . . in a big bucket . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . which had been used to . . . to wash the laundry.

David Boder

They improvised a stove?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

They had . . . they put some iron [?] material on the bottom and then they took doors and window frames and everything that was available in wood and they cut it and they entertained this, and so I had a continual . . . continual stove. You see, I could always . . .

David Boder

Warm yourself?

Nelly Bondy

. . . warm some water, warm myself and so . . .

David Boder

Oh, they maintained it for you?

Nelly Bondy

They . . . no. They didn't maintain it. They just brought me fuel.

David Boder

Fuel, and you were . . . ah . . .

Nelly Bondy

And I maintained it myself.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

During the day I burned wood and during the night I had some . . . ah . . . coal. Very few.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Very . . . little. I just kept it for the night in order not to be able . . . be obliged to start in fresh in the morning.

David Boder

Ja . . . well?

Nelly Bondy

I remained there for a fortnight [?] and then finally I couldn't stand it and I went to see the mayor of this place and asked him for a certificate that I was ill and that I needed a doctor. I [he] said, "I would . . . I would give it to you but it's of no use. I've given it to several people and the Americans didn't consider it." As I tried then to leave . . .

David Boder

. . . and on that side was what, Germany or [unintelligible]?

Nelly Bondy

No, that was non-occupied. You see, the Americans had occupied the town to this river. There was a river there.

David Boder

It was a kind of a no man's land?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, kind of a no man's land without a . . .

David Boder

And the mayor was a German?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, it was a German mayor.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And we awaited the approach of the Russians.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

The Americans were on the other side of the bridge.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

He gave me the certificate stating that I was a French political prisoner and I went to see the guard on the bridge with that; and he said, "That's all right, but you need the approval of an American officer." I said, "Well, let me get over. I'll get it." "Oh, you can't get over." So I didn't know what to do, and I asked him if he couldn't . . . ah . . . ask the officer if it . . . if I couldn't [get] over with this, and he was . . . ah . . . a bit drunk, this boy.

David Boder

A bit what?

Nelly Bondy

Drunk. [she speaks in whisper]

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . .

David Boder

The American?

Nelly Bondy

American, but he was very young [?]; he was quite a boy.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

He was quite young. He might have been twenty-two or so, and the he said, "I'll . . . ah . . . I'll ask the officer for you and come back tomorrow. I'll be on duty and I'll tell you what he . . . what he says." So I said to him, "Oh, thank you. That's very kind of you." He said, "Well, I know," and with that I went back. But I had heard about a German nurse who could pass over to the American occupied zone. I went to see her and I asked if she couldn't help [me] to an authorization from the American officers [unintelligible].

David Boder

What group was that? Is the . . . was the war over?

Nelly Bondy

No, officially not. It was the end of April.

David Boder

Ja . . . well?

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . well, the Germans knew that everything was lost anyway; so they didn't care, more or less. Well, I went to town to find this nurse, and the first thing she did was to . . . to bandage my foot again; and she saw that I really needed a doctor. So she took the paper and . . . ah . . . she went over. She crossed the bridge and she had the . . . she obtained authorization.

David Boder

To bring you over?

Nelly Bondy

To bring my . . . to bring me over. Well, the next day she came to fetch me and just the morning of this dayâit was in the afternoon when she came to fetch meâbut in the morning the Russians had arrived there.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And now there was a Russian guard . . . Russian . . .

David Boder

Guard on this side?

Nelly Bondy

. . . guard on this side of the bridge. He told me that I needed a Russian authorization. I was . . . and I said . . . ah . . . I didn't take . . . pay any heed to him. I said I was ordered, was sick and I had an American authorization [?].

David Boder

What language did he talk?

Nelly Bondy

Russian. Well, he . . . I made myself understood, the French.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Well, I got over and they put me off to a hospital there immediately; and three or four days there was a French prisoner who was making lists for French people and . . . ah . . . she took my name down and a few days later I was sent to Leipzig and . . . sent back to France.

David Boder

Ja . . . tell me about your husband.

Nelly Bondy

My husband was a Czech subject. He had been . . . he had engaged himself as a volunteer at the beginning of the war. One weâ . . . one week after the . . .

David Boder

Did you marry him [in] Vienna?

Nelly Bondy

Well, yes. He was living in Paris since '26, but he came to Vienna for the . . . for the marriageâjust for the wedding ceremony.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Then we left Vienna.

David Boder

You knew him before?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I had known him when I had been in Paris previously in '35.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

We . . . when he had been . . . he had to be called to the colors in . . . ah . . . January '40; and he had been discharged from the army in September '40. Then we went back to Paris.

David Boder

Why was he discharged?

Nelly Bondy

Well, the war was over.

David Boder

The armistice? The . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes. The armistice.

David Boder

Ja . . . this arranged armistice.

Nelly Bondy

Yes, that's right.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

In . . . ah . . . April, '41, our third child was born and four weeks later he was . . .

David Boder

Which child was born, the fourth one?

Nelly Bondy

Our youngest child. He was . . .

David Boder

That's the third or the fourth?

Nelly Bondy

Third. Yes, we had a little boy.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Four weeks later he was arrested and he never returned to Paris. He had . . . he was kept in a camp near Orleans which was before [?]; and he was sent . . . ah . . . deporâ . . . he was deported to an unknown destination thirteen months later. That was in June of '42. I never had any news from him, but when I came to Auschwitz myselfâI was working in the so-called Politische Abteilung, that was the administration of the camp, and I found his file card and I found that [he] had been . . . [pause]

David Boder

When you were at Auschwitz, you say?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. When I was in Auschwitz I worked in the so-called Politsche Abteilung, that was part of the administration of the camp, I found out by his file card that he had been, three months after his arrival, killed by a guard, in '42.

David Boder

Did they say why or what, or . . . ?

Nelly Bondy

Nothing.

David Boder

Eh . . . now tell me. You were in Auschwitz in the office?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Did you know then at all these gassing and . . . ah . . . so on procedures?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I did.

David Boder

What did you know about it?

Nelly Bondy

Well, officially everything was kept secret.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

But of course, we knew because . . . ah . . . before selections were made we got the lists.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And we made out the lists. We were taking out a file card on everybody and marking his death even before he was dead.

David Boder

Oh, that . . . ah . . . and what did they call it officially there?

Nelly Bondy

Pardon?

David Boder

What did the Germans call such a procedure? So what will they . . . they would say to make out a list and take out a card. Wofur? Wozu?

Nelly Bondy

Well, we never were . . . ah . . . suâ . . . supposed to ask any questions. They told us . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . do that and do that and we had to do it. Everybody knew why, but . . . ah . . . they weren't given any reason.

David Boder

And what would you . . . so when you found your husband's card what did it say?

Nelly Bondy

Well, he was already dead.

David Boder

What did it say?

Nelly Bondy

It was said that he had died on that and that date.

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

But . . . as we knew that there was a big selection on this day . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . so we . . . we knew about that.

David Boder

Um-hum . . .

Nelly Bondy

By the by, they burned all these cards . . . ah . . . you see.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

They . . . they burned the cards when . . . after a certain fire. My husband's file card was still there in . . . ah . . . in July '43; but it was no more there in October '43.

David Boder

They would pick out the cards and . . .

Nelly Bondy

They would take out the cards by and by and burn them . . . officially they were sent to Birkenau, but . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . they were burned.

David Boder

Were you somewhere near those crematories in Auschwitz?

Nelly Bondy

Well, we had one quite near our office; but it didn't work anymore when I came there. It had been working there before, and it . . . ah . . . the chimney was taken away during my time.

David Boder

Why?

Nelly Bondy

I don't know exactly, but I suppose they wanted to leave as few traces as possible.

David Boder

Aha . . .

Nelly Bondy

The . . . these killings by gas were supposed to stop altogether since . . . ah . . . October or November '44. I couldn't tell you exactly if they really did, but . . . ah . . . lots of these chimneys were taken away at that time, even the chimneys in Birkenau.

David Boder

Tell me, there is one thing that is so . . . ah . . . ah . . . cloudy and maybe you worked . . . having worked in an office you know . . . eh. What do they say about the Gypsiesâthe Zigeuner?

Nelly Bondy

Well, the Gypsies . . . ah . . . were considered the . . . the worst . . . ah . . . inhabitants after the Jews.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

You see, there were certain . . . certain . . . hierarchive [hierarchy].

David Boder

Yes. Graâ . . . graduaâ . . . gradation.

Nelly Bondy

"Graduation." Yes. Well, the lowest . . . the lowest case were the Jews. Then came the Gypsies.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

Then came the . . . the Poles or so . . . well, all people who were not German. Then came the so-called antisocial or asocial German inmates.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

And the political prisoners.

David Boder

Yes. Well, so what about the Gypsies?

Nelly Bondy

Well, the Gypsies were not treated much better than the Jews. There was a so-called . . . ah . . . family camp for Gypsies; but the Gypsies were killed by gas . . . ah . . . exactly as Jews.

David Boder

Eh . . . they permitted the Gypsies to live togetherâthe men and the women?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Men and women and children lived together in one big camp in Birkenau. But the camp dissolved and they sent away the part of young men and young Gypsies to other camps for . . . I suppose they'd seâ . . . they sent them to work in a . . . in a war factories.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

Ammunition factories or so.

David Boder

Yes.

Nelly Bondy

And the others were killed.

David Boder

The others were killed . . .

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

There was no Zigeunerlager in . . . ah . . . Auschwitz?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, a Zigeunerlager.

David Boder

There was in Auschwitz a Zigeunerlager?

Nelly Bondy

In . . . ah . . . in Birkenau.

David Boder

In Birkenau there was a Zigeunerlager?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

So that's what you know about them. Where did they get all those Gyâ . . . Gypsies?

Nelly Bondy

Well, they picked them up exactly as they captured Jews . . . the Jews.

David Boder

And were there that many? Well, did they get them from Austria, from . . .

Nelly Bondy

From Austria, yes. From Germany. From all over the . . . the . . . the German-occupied Europe.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

There were Romanian and Italian and Hungarian and Slovakian and all kinds of nationalities.

David Boder

Hm . . . how old are your children now, Miss . . . Mrs. Bondy?

Nelly Bondy

Well, I have a daughter who's nine, and two boys, of seven and five years.

David Boder

And where are they now?

Nelly Bondy

They are in the center of France . . . ah . . . where they have stayed ever since I was deported.

David Boder

Aha . . . eh . . . do you go visit them, or what?

Nelly Bondy

I go to see them sometime, but it's rather far from Paris. I . . . I wish to take them back to Paris but till this day I didn't . . . get my flat back. We had a big flat before . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . it's occupied now and I couldn't get it back.

David Boder

How . . .

Nelly Bondy

I have been back for more than a year and I . . . I can't get in.

David Boder

Tell me, why . . . who lives there?

Nelly Bondy

There is a man who was once a prisoner in Germany.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Nelly Bondy

He came back in '42 and fought the Free [?] and he has a military requisition.

David Boder

Ah . . .

Nelly Bondy

And . . . ah . . . even though this requisition have . . . ah . . . no more sense now the war being over . . .

David Boder

No more value.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. I can't get him out.

David Boder

And . . . eh . . . that is why you can't bring your children over?

Nelly Bondy

That's why I can't bring my children back with me to Paris; and they need it very badly because they're in a . . . quite a small place where there is no good school. My daughter is nine years [?]. She ought to speak a second language by now . . . by now; and . . . ah . . . no kind of education and nothing at all. I'm very worried about her.

David Boder

Eh . . . tell me . . . ah . . . you are here with the . . . with the Joint Distribution Committee?

Nelly Bondy

Yes, I work with . . .

David Boder

How did you find them; to work for them?

Nelly Bondy

I knew a lady who was working for the Joint and I had met her once in . . . in these critical days in '42 when we . . . everybody was trembling to be arrested. She just came to see me. She was a friend of my governess.

David Boder

Hm . . .

Nelly Bondy

And she was working here, and when I came back to my governess I got in touch with her, and she . . . eh . . . she got me here.

David Boder

Your governess was never deported?

Nelly Bondy

No, she slipped through.

David Boder

She lived through.

Nelly Bondy

But was very . . . she was awfully kind as well as [?] . . . it was very lucky for me because she took care of the children, really as if they had been hers.

David Boder

Yes. Tell me, Mrs. Bondy, you were . . . since you were near the . . . ah . . . Nazi now and then in the office, what were they talking? Did they believe they will win the war and all that?

Nelly Bondy

I don't think they did. Finally they did not. They were supposed to make us believe that they would win the war, and I remember after the . . . the Americans had come to Paris that . . . ah . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . they told us that the Germans had . . . ah . . . had . . . ah . . . blown up half of the city. And he even told me the different quarters which had been blown up. He talkâ . . . he talked about the Republique . . . the Quarter of the Republique, the Quarter of the Opera.

David Boder

Where did they talk about it, in Auschwitz?

Nelly Bondy

In Auschwitz. He told me that all these quarters in Paris had been blown up by the Germans before they left.

David Boder

Aha . . .

Nelly Bondy

So we . . .

David Boder

So in Auschwitz they knew already that the Germans had left Paris?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. It was in . . . in August or September, '44.

David Boder

And that they were talking freely; so you knew what was going on.

Nelly Bondy

Well, we knew. You see, we . . . we knew what was going on. Some of the girls were working with high officers who had broadcastings in their rooms so sometime they manage to hear.

David Boder

[simultaneously] Eh . . . to . . . radio sets in there?

Nelly Bondy

Yes.

David Boder

Ja . . . some of them managed to hear it.

Nelly Bondy

Managed to hear. Yes. They were never supposed to listen because it was . . . ah . . .

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

. . . prohibited.

David Boder

High treason?

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Everything was verboten.

David Boder

Tell me, in general . . . did the women fare who had to work with the Nazis? How did they behave . . . behave towards women?

Nelly Bondy

Well, they didn't behave very well, I'm sorry to say. That's to say, they made an exception for us who were working with them. They behaved fairly well. Of course, if they had an occasion they got drunk even if we were there or not. That was a different kind of thing; but on a general scale they treated us . . . ah . . . like machines, like automatons, you see.

David Boder

Ja . . .

Nelly Bondy

"Do this and do that," and . . .

David Boder

What did they call you?

Nelly Bondy

They called us with our names.

David Boder

Did they call you "Clara" [?] ?

Nelly Bondy

No, they called me "Bondy."

David Boder

Bondy. By the . . . by the last name.

Nelly Bondy

Yes. Some of the girls they called by their first names.

David Boder

Aha . . . well, Mrs. Bondy, it was awfully good of you.

Nelly Bondy

Well, I . . .

David Boder

I think it was worthwhile to trouble here with electricity. I will have a bill for a broken lamp.

Nelly Bondy

Oh, I'm sorry!

David Boder

But that was . . . [laughing] well, that's all right. We will charge it to research; and it was awfully good of you. I'm glad I have met you.

Nelly Bondy

Oh, that's OK.

David Boder

Thank you very much. See that you get me somebody else.

Nelly Bondy

That's all right [unintelligible]. Somebody else? From Auschwitz I haven't got [unintelligible, away from microphone] . . .

David Boder

Well, Auschwitz or some other place.

Nelly Bondy

All right [?] [far from microphone].

David Boder

Eh, this concludes . . . Spool . . . 61 . . . taken at the . . . headquarters of the Joint Distribution Committee on August 22nd, 1946, in Paris. A Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording.