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

  • 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!
  • Nelly Bondy: Yes.
  • 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 t— . . . 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 morning—it was half past four in the morning—they 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't— 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 lady—a French lady—who 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 cars— on . . . ah . . . those . . .
  • David Boder: Trucks?
  • Nelly Bondy: . . . trucks. Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes . . .
  • Nelly Bondy: And the others—we 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 Aus— . . . 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 Drancy—how you call it in elegant French—you 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 separated—the 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 health—who 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 floor—that 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 already—men 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 trou— . . . 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, quarters—sleeping quarters.
  • David Boder: Yes . . .
  • Nelly Bondy: They were . . . they were three . . . three—I 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 woo— . . . 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 it—what 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. Jus— . . . 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 Ravensbrück.
  • 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]Here it is pertinent to state that the interview took place in kind of a storeroom, and that people were coming in at times unceremoniously to fetch whatever things they needed at the moment, including their bicycles which they stored indoors1 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 people—putting 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 there—loaded.
  • 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 Ravensbrück.
  • 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 Ravensbrück 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 Ravensbrück
  • 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 for—I couldn't tell—three 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 Ravensbrück. It's to . . . it's there in Metel— . . . in . . . it's in the Mark in Germany, you see.
  • David Boder: Ja . . . yes. It was a sh— . . . 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 bread—three 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 clean—which 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 Fren— . . . 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 stadium—a 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 other—just 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 Jew—a 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 town—to 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 evacuat— . . . 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 dress—in 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 do—
  • David Boder: Your . . . your maiden name is Strasser.
  • Nelly Bondy: Yes. It's a German name—Strasser.
  • 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.The Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt (NSV) was a social welfare organization which existed in Germany during the period of Nazi rule.2
  • 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 lo— . . . 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, "Li— . . . 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 some—an 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 Ger— . . . 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 day—it was in the afternoon when she came to fetch me—but 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 we— . . . 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 marriage—just 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 . . . depor— . . . 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 myself—I 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 . . . su— . . . 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 Gypsies—the 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. Gra— . . . gradua— . . . 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 together—the 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 se— . . . 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?A camp specifically for people of Gypsy (Roma and Sinti) background, who were also persecuted unmercifully by the Nazis.3
  • 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 Gy— . . . 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 talk— . . . 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.
  1. Here it is pertinent to state that the interview took place in kind of a storeroom, and that people were coming in at times unceremoniously to fetch whatever things they needed at the moment, including their bicycles which they stored indoors
  2. The Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt (NSV) was a social welfare organization which existed in Germany during the period of Nazi rule.
  3. A camp specifically for people of Gypsy (Roma and Sinti) background, who were also persecuted unmercifully by the Nazis.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription : David P. Boder
  • Footnotes : David P. Boder, Eben E. English