David P. Boder Interviews Mendel Herskovitz; July 31, 1946; Fontenay-aux-Roses, France

  • David Boder: [In English] July 31st, 1946, at Chateau Boucicaut, a suburb of Paris. A home for about sixty children, forty-five of whom were in Buchenwald, and the rest from other parts, all so-called war-damaged children. The first person to interview here is Mendel Herskovitz.
  • David Boder: [In German] Mendel, how old are you?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Eighteen years.
  • David Boder: Eighteen years. Speak in Yiddish. And where were you born?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In Lodz.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In Poland.
  • David Boder: In Poland. In what city?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Lodz.
  • David Boder: In Lodz. Tell....How old were you when the Germans came to Lodz?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: When the Germans came to Lodz I was twelve years old.
  • David Boder: Twelve years. Before the Germans, who was in Lodz?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Poland. The Poles.
  • David Boder: The Poles. The Russians were not in Lodz?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The Russians were not in Lodz.
  • David Boder: All right. And so you were twelve years old when the Germans came to Lodz?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: All right. Good. Now, would you tell me with the best details, what happened in the few days before the Germans came, and when they came,and all that? Tell me everything the way you remember it. We want later to tell it to the American children. You understand that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Hm.
  • David Boder: And so, begin and speak most frankly. Yes. Now how was it the way you remember the three, four days before the Germans came? What did the Poles do? [Pause. There is some whisper. He apparently talks away from the microphone.]
  • David Boder: Not exactly [all] the details. What you remember. Tell.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A scare fell on the Jews when they found out that the Germans were near Lodz.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: On a Wednesday night began...people packed and began running farther... nearer to...to be farther away from the Germans.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That means they ran on the road to Brzeziny that would take them closest to Warsaw.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: On the way.... I was also among them. I also ran. There arrived German planes, and they saw a crowd of people.
  • David Boder: Go on.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They dived down. With machine guns from the planes, they began to shoot [us] up, so that ninety per cent of the people remained lying right there.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And only a few came out.
  • David Boder: Who...who was in your family...family? Your father? Your...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There was...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The family consisted of daddy, mommie, three sisters, and me.
  • David Boder: Yes. And no grandmother, no grandfather? They were not with you?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It is self-understood. We did not live together.
  • David Boder: Hm. Speak at [microphone]. Nu? You say that the German planes came and you were shot at.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They began to shoot at us with machine guns.
  • David Boder: Yes. Did all of your family remain together?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The family remained at home. Only I and a sister ran away together. And we two came back.
  • David Boder: Oh, you didn't run away together with your family?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: No.
  • David Boder: No? Who ran away? You and your...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There ran a lot of people...nearly seventy percent of the population of Lodz...
  • David Boder: Yes? So you and your sister...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And we were...we were youngsters...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...so we also ran away [with them].
  • David Boder: And the parents remained at home?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The parents remained at home.
  • David Boder: Did the parents tell you to run?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They said we should not run...but, it was...it was so that...it was a state of war,...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...so that everybody did the way he understood.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: One didn't listen to anybody.
  • David Boder: So you and your sister were on the road, nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: On the road. We two...and we saw the shooting...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...we began to walk back. On the way we met the Germans already.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They didn't especially bother us,
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: because we were still children...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and so we came back home.
  • David Boder: What did you find at home?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: At home everything was still like before.
  • David Boder: Yes? Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And further on, nothing special...the first two days they said that the Jews shouldn't be afraid...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The Jews won't be harmed. And later on, after four, five days, then they went to work.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I remember they went in...the first thing was...four days after entering Lodz. They went into a cafe on Nowomiejska Street, to a Jew, and from there they took out fourteen Jews and took them behind the town and there they were shot.
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Uh. Because they were Jews.
  • David Boder: Hm, nu? Tell me, what was going on in your house...at home. So, you were there? How long did you remain in Lodz?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In Lodz we remained till...on Rosh-Hashana [Jewish New Year] they entered...we remained until Pesach [Jewish Easter] till Pesach in '39.
  • David Boder: Yes, all right.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Till Pesach of thirty-nine.
  • David Boder: Yes, nu? Or was it '40?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Till forty...This...
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu, all right. And you remained there till Pesach. What did the family do?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Till Pesach...until then there was still food...we traded a little and for the food we had to get up at three in the morning and stand in line for bread...and other such things...everything was already very hard.
  • David Boder: What were your parents' occupations? What was your father's trade?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We...we had a store.
  • David Boder: What kind?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Dry -goods.
  • David Boder: A dry - goods store?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Dry - goods.
  • David Boder: Did you also keep it later on? Was it...?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Later on we didn't have it any more, but what...? We were able just in time to take out some of the merchandise and hide it in the house...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and with it we traded later.
  • David Boder: Hm, and with it you traded.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Later on, yes.
  • David Boder: Yes. Were you sent to work, or what?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We were...on the streets. The Germans drove around like normal, [sarcastically] like only the Germans could...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They drove around and caught people...Jews, to work, especially Jews.
  • David Boder: Hm. Who from your family was made to work? From your family? You had no brothers?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I too worked a few months.
  • David Boder: Yes. And the...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I was only a young child then.
  • David Boder: ...sisters? How old were your sisters?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The sisters were younger than I.
  • David Boder: Oh, you were the...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I was the oldest.
  • David Boder: With which sister did you run away?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: With the...with the one younger than I. She was eleven years old.
  • David Boder: How old? Eleven?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: Nu, that's how it was till Pesach. Now, go on.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Later on we were...three weeks before Pesach...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...the Jews were notified that the...there was a part of Lodz that was called Balut [this was the slum] ... hm... that all the Jews had to live together in one quarter. It was called, naturally, a Ghetto.
  • David Boder: Yes, nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It was to have been that the Ghetto was not to be closed. There will be nearly free movement...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...but on the first...on the second day of Pesach, in the last days, we arose in the morning. we saw that the Ghetto was fenced in.
  • David Boder: Fenced in?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: With what?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It was fenced in with wires...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...with electric wires. [He often whispers, especially the correction.]
  • David Boder: With electric wires?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: No, not with electric wires.
  • David Boder: Nu, not with electric wires. With [plain] wires. Nu? So?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And German soldiers already stood around. It was already guarded.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Then [?]...
  • David Boder: And they were not.... Nu? What were people doing while they were in the Ghetto?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: What?
  • David Boder: What did the people do in the Ghetto?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They.... What did they do? They indeed did not know what to do. They became...they became not human [they ceased to be human]. They did not know what to do with themselves.
  • David Boder: Hm. Were people not taken to work from the Ghetto?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Not from the Ghetto.
  • David Boder: Louder. From the Ghetto people were not taken.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: From the Ghetto not too many people were taken. I there was...if there was a certain trade...if they needed people with a certain trade.... They were the rag pedlers.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Sellers of rags.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Sellers of refuse. They dealt in old rags.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They were special Jews who knew...
  • David Boder: Oh. Sellers of refuse. Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: Nu? What was...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...who had competence in this trade.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They were 'special' specialists.
  • David Boder: Well.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So that they were taken out of the Ghetto, and they lived outside the Ghetto.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They lived [outside] for a long time, for a year, a year and a half.
  • David Boder: What were they needed for?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Because they were specialists in that they had a knowledge of it.
  • David Boder: Specialists in what?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Yes. In that trade.
  • David Boder: In what? In rags?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In rags, yes.
  • David Boder: Nu, from where did they get so many rags?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Was there not enough of it?
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Things that the Jews were wearing before they came to Lodz. Was there not enough of it. Did they not have what to do with it?
  • David Boder: What was made of the rags?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The rags were taken into a factory and there new material [goods] was made out of them.
  • David Boder: Oh. Nu, let us go on. And how long were you in the Ghetto of Lodz?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In the Ghetto of Lodz I was...I myself was till the year forty-three[?]. In the meantime there were goings on. There was a president Rumkowski.
  • David Boder: A what?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Rumkowski.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Chaim Rumkowski. A president of the Ghetto of Lodz>.
  • David Boder: Yes. A Jew?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A Jew.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A Jew who before the war was the head of the orphanages.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And in the Ghetto he became the Elder of Jews.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: He...he was...he was eighty percent for the Germans...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and twenty percent for the Jews. He did what he could to aid the Germans rather than the Jews.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So that during the time until, let's say till I was deported, that I knew there was one deportation of for-...forty-five thousand Jews...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...who were told they will be distributed among the peasants.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And instead they were sent into the oven, about which we didn't discover till later, because Jews in Lodz didn't till a year before the end of the war, they didn't know that they were being sent into the oven.
  • David Boder: The Jews in Lodz didn't...?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Jews...till a year before the war...before the end of the war...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...they didn't know that people are being sent into the oven.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Because it was said...the forty-five thousand people...It was said that when they were sent out of the Ghetto, they were sent to work...
  • David Boder: They were sent...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...to the peasants and they will have it all right.
  • David Boder: Nu, let's...Let's go back to your family. So you lived in the Ghetto. Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In the Ghetto.
  • David Boder: How long...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The war...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Everybody worked.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I had three small sisters and the mommie.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They worked in one shop.
  • David Boder: For whom? For the Germans or for...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: For the Germans.
  • David Boder: Yes, they...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They earned on the job.
  • David Boder: Yes. And?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Daddy worked as a locksmith [enunciation not clear to interviewer].
  • David Boder: At what did he work?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: As a locksmith.
  • David Boder: What is that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Keys, locks, nu. Let us say to make a key for a door...
  • David Boder: Yes, nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and other such work, and I worked as smith.
  • David Boder: Smith.
  • David Boder: Nu? And who was the smith, a Jew?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The...the leader of....There was one Chaimowicz.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There was a whole shop [?]. There was not only a smithy. There were all kinds of work .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There was a turnery [lathe shop].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There were sheet metal shops and other such...a welding shop...different kinds. There were many kinds of work jobs.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It used to occupy...there were employed several thousand workers.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu, and how long did that last?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: With me it lasted until the year forty-three.
  • David Boder: How old were you then?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Then I was fifteen years old.
  • David Boder: Nu...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I was sent to Czestochowa.
  • David Boder: By yourself?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: By myself. With...
  • David Boder: And the family?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...with another thousand five hundred people...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They were picked out...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...especially good workers.
  • David Boder: But the family was left there.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The family remained at home.
  • David Boder: The whole family?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The whole family.
  • David Boder: Nu? All right, so you were sent to Czestochowa.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Thousand five - hundred people were sent to Czestochowa.
  • David Boder: How did you go? By train?
  • Mendel Herskovitz:
  • David Boder: Yes. And in what type of RR-cars were you sent?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Rr-cars?
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In RR-cars we were transported till Czestochowa...It took maybe...it took about a day and a half...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This journey ought to have taken a few hours.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It took a day and a half till we arrived.
  • David Boder: All right, nu, then?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: After that we were taken off.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And we were treated like prisoners were treated.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Beaten...thrashed...took away everything we had...
  • David Boder: Took away?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Yes, naturally.
  • David Boder: Nu? And what was in Czestochowa, a lager?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In Czestochowa there was an ammunition lager.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There only rifle bullets were manufactured.
  • David Boder: Nu? And what was done when you were sent there?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Rifle bullets...A week we were...a week they let us rest...
  • David Boder: You were allowed to rest?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Yes...to rest...It...it was supposed to be called a rest.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Afterwards we were assigned to factories, everyone by his trade that he knew...
  • David Boder: Uh-huh.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and we worked till...till a certain time [and] they saw that the work didn't go [right]. There were selected from the factory ninety men among whom I was to...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and they were sent to Skarzysko - Kammienna. There is...there is one of the largest factories of ammunitions in Poland. There were manufactured not only rifle bullets. There was manufactured...
  • David Boder: Were you selected because you were good...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...also artillery ammunition.
  • David Boder: ...or because you were bad?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Because I was an artisan.
  • David Boder: Yes, nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So I was selec...selected...
  • David Boder: And what was...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...that there I should...
  • David Boder: ...done with the others?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The others remained working.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They worked in the meantime...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and waited till we be returned.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We were taken there to learn a completely different job and return to install the machinery so that it will do the other work.
  • David Boder: Yes. Were you paid for the work?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We were paid nothing. Only the food...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That was twenty dekas of bread and a soup per day...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and...and sleeping quarters.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We slept on bare boards.
  • David Boder: On what?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: On bare boards, four stories in height.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Before the was somebody had a factory there. There was a...His horses were standing there.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [Whispers] What is it called in...?
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: What is it called in...?
  • David Boder: Horses?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Horses had been standing there.
  • David Boder: Yes, a...a stable.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A stable for horses.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And later there had been arranged...erected four-story beds...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and there slept those...
  • David Boder: And what...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...who worked there.
  • David Boder: ...did you wear?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: For clothing we wore...a jacket, a shirt, a pair of trousers and a pair of shoes.
  • David Boder: What kind of shoes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Shoes...it depended on the need...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...how one happened to get...one was given a pair of torn leather ones, and another was given a whole pair of wooden ones.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu, and, tell me how did the day pass? What time did you get up in the morning?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We got up around six o'clock. We washed up. Later we went out and arranged ourselves, everyone according to his job.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There came a German and counted...
  • David Boder: What? Counted?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Counted.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Afterwards we went to the factory which was a few steps from...from the barracs.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And there we were counted again by every master of one's job...
  • David Boder: Were you given anything to eat in the morning?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We didn't receive till later, in the factory at work.
  • David Boder: Yes, nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Later came the foremen of every job...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and we were led over to the machines.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We then received the bread.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Then we had breakfast and went to work.
  • David Boder: Hm. And the foreman was who, German or...Jewish?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The foremen were only Germans. There were overseers - very few - who knew the job well, really well.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So they were overseers. So they walked around to watch that we were working and if something special broke that the...the inexperienced worker couldn't fix it, so they fixed it.
  • David Boder: So they what?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So they repaired it.
  • David Boder: They repaired it.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes, nu.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And if it happened that maybe someone...that a worker...that it happened to him that he broke something...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...a thing that had to worked on for a half a day...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...or maybe a few hours...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...until it was fixed...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There was upstairs a...there was a special office...there was a special entrance on the side to walk up to the first [second in story in the United States] floor... and one was taken upstairs...Two Germans walked upstairs,...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and that person...he was stretched out on a bench...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and he was administered...it depended...twenty-five...hundred...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: One did withstand it, and another did not withstand it.
  • David Boder: What means 'he didn't withstand it'?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: He could get sick and he could...die from it.
  • David Boder: Hm. [an interrupted word].
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And one did withstand it...It went by...One it didn't hurt...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...especially...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and another was laid up sick for a few days...and later got up from bed and again went to work.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu...If somebody became sick, what was done...if somebody became sick?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There was a hospital.
  • David Boder: What kind of hospital?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There was a hospital. There was medical care...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...that...There were Jewish doctors...
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu, and so, that was where? In Czesto...on Czestochowa?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That was in Czestochowa.
  • David Boder: In Czestochowa. How long were you in Czestochowa?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In Czestochowa I was...maybe...four or five months. Later I was sent to Skarzysko, as I told you.
  • David Boder: Nu, later you were sent where, to...?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: To Skarzysko for...for nine weeks.
  • David Boder: Nine weeks.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: To learn working on a new machine.
  • David Boder: Oh, you were taught to work on a new machine.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: On a new machine.
  • David Boder: And who taught you that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They were old workers, Jewish, who already had worked on that machine. So we were put on that machine and they were only to instruct [?] us.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So that we became more familiar with the machine, and we had special [people] who told us how the machine works...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...how we are spposed to operate it.
  • David Boder: In what language did they speak to you?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: To us one spoke German.
  • David Boder: German.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There were Poles, we worked together with Poles...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and they were, of course, free.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: With them, of course, Polish was spoken.
  • David Boder: Did one live in the same barracks with the Poles?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: No. They lived in the town.
  • David Boder: In what:
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In the town. They lived at home.
  • David Boder: At home.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And we lived in the lager.
  • David Boder: In the lager. And how did the Poles behave themselves towards the Jews?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This already depended on the person.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu, all right.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: But especially good, no. If they could...if they could betray a Jew so that he should fall into a German hand, they did it gladly.
  • David Boder: He should what?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: He should fall into a German hand.
  • David Boder: What does it mean?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: To a German!
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: If they could snitch [squeal] on him they did it gladly.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Like there have been cases that for a kilo of sugar a Jew was sold. A Jew came to hide himself to a Pole.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So the Pole first of all would take away from him all his valuables that he had. When he saw that the Jew doesn't have anything more, he would go to the Gestapo, would report that a Jew is hiding out with him, and the Jew was taken out and shot. The Poles received for it either a kilo...a liter of schnapps or a kilo of sugar.
  • David Boder: A kilo of sugar. Yes. All right. Nu, after the nine weeks there, what happened?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: After eight, nine weeks....In the meantime, in a lager, naturally, if there were or weren't radios...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...we heard the way the political facts are coming along.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We also heard that the Russians are beginning to approach, and on the other side the Americans and the English are moving forward.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And three weeks before the liquidation of the camp of Skarzysko...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...we were sent back to Czestochowa...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and here we began to work on those machines that we had learned there.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And so passed three weeks. After three weeks we heard that the Russians are near Warsaw...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and a day later the camp was liquidated in Czestochowa...in...pardon, in Skarzysko,...
  • David Boder: What does it mean, 'the camp was liquidated'?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The camp was evacuated. We were sent [away].
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There came...three thousand people were sent to Czestochowa.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Among them were small children. There were forty children.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They were in the first transport that was brought from Skarzysko to Czestochowa. The forty children were taken away. Till twelve years [old] they were taken away and brought out of the Jewish...on the Jewish cemetary...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and the children were slain.
  • David Boder: Who? [By whom?]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The Germans.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: After this was a second transport, so the Jews of Czestochowa had especially...uh...eh...had money...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...so that the second transport was of those who had more money...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and they bribed the Germans...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and the Jews were...and the children were let into the lager.
  • David Boder: The people were let in...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The children were let into the camp, so, that one can say, the children have remained to this day. The children were liberated.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This lasted till the time...till two, three months later. When the Russians began to go forward, a list was made of nine hundred...from nine to ten hundred people, Jews, and they were supposed to be sent to Czesto...to Buchenwald, among whom I was also.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Suddenly on one morning there was an appell. The nine hundred people were selected...
  • David Boder: And why to Buchenwald?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Because there was a concentration camp. [He means apparently a distribution center.]
  • David Boder: Hm. And the remaining? The nine hundred were...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They remained.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I'll soon tell you what happened to them.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We were taken outside the city, put on trains, and driven four days in succession.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So we were driven till we arrived in Buchenwald.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In Buchenwald we were stripped or everything that we had. Everybody already had...we had traded with the Poles.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So everybody already had something.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: One had bread. One had...eh...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...eh...eh...one can say even dollars.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Another had gold. How one already...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...had worked himself up a little. All this we had taken away. We were given prison clothes.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That meant jackets and pants, blue and white stripes.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And we were distributed to barracks. We lived thre, two thousand, three thousand men in one block.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So...
  • David Boder: Only Jews?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Only Jews. This transport was of Jews only.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The treatment was...let's imagine, a very bad one.
  • David Boder: Why? I mean, how come?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We didn't receive anything to cover ourselves.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We had to sleep in our clothes.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The soup that we received was water. Plain water [in cmparison] is thick.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Furthermore, the bread that we received had more [potato] peels than flour...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...like sawdust. One couldn't call it flour.
  • David Boder: Did one...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Furthermore, we slept...at night we slept fifteen men on two meters, one two meters in width we slept fift-...
  • David Boder: On two meters in width...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...on two meters in width. That was boards knocked together...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...over four stories in height...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...fifteen men slept.
  • David Boder: On every two meters?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: On every two meters fifteen men.
  • David Boder: Nu, how can one sleep like this?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This way we had to sleep. How one can, I know...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...that no man can understand it who didn't go through all this...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...who didn't see it, but like this we had to sleep. It acturally was impossible, but in the winter it was warmer because of it.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Heat was not provided. There were barracks that were, maybe fifty, sixty, meters in length and thirty meters in width.
  • David Boder: In which month did you go to Buchenwald?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I came to Buchenwald the first month of '45.
  • David Boder: January?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: January.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu, and then? Did one work in Buchenwald?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In the beginning we were four weeks in quarantine. That meant, four weeks we had to be in the block whether one isn't sick...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...whether one isn't sick of a cont-...contagious...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...disease, and later on one began to be sent to work.
  • David Boder: What did one do?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And in those four weeks...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In the meantime injections [word given in Polish] were given.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Injections. What is it called in English or Jewish?
  • David Boder: What do you call it?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I do not know what it is in English.
  • David Boder: What is it called [attempts to repeat in Polish]?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [In Polish] Injections. Nu, that doctors make against...against various didseases.
  • David Boder: Injections. [In English]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Injections...
  • David Boder: Injections. [In German]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Injections. [In German]
  • David Boder: Injections. [In German, the right word]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Injections. That's it.
  • David Boder: Hm. They were given to you, yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: One was given eight injections against all the diseases that can...that...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...that can be contagious...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...that a man can easily catch...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...in such...under susch filthy conditions in which we lived there.
  • David Boder: Hm. And then?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: After four weeks....So we lived for four weeks. After four weeks we began to be distributed to work. There was...in the beginning we...we have... we were sent...we carried bricks to build a...a...against a bombardment to hide oneself.
  • David Boder: Eh...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: What was it called?
  • David Boder: A bomb-shelter. A...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A bomb-shelter.
  • David Boder: Against bombs...to....Yes? I understand. And then?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Later, Russians planes have....I remember, on a Friday...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...Russian planes have bombed the first city near Buchenwald. It was eight kilometers from Buchenwald. They have bombed the...in the span of six hours...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...so that....The city was named Weimar.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They bombed during the span of six hours so, that maybe three-quarters of the city was damaged.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Saturday morning we were put on trains...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and we were driven to this city, to work at the houses there that had been bombed. Naturally a lot of people had been killed.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and later to carry out the things [belongings] that still could be repaired.
  • David Boder: Were you allowed to take the things which you found?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Not for us to keep. To take them out for the Germans.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Because we...we weren't allowed to touch anything. One could help himself...if there was, let's say, a bombed house. If one can find food or other things, one took it...If one could take it with him, he took it with him. If not, he ate it on the spot, so that we made out a little.
  • David Boder: Did one find any money, or such?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Money had absolutely no interest for us, because we couldn"t get anything for the money.
  • David Boder: One couldn't get anything?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We couldn't...
  • David Boder: And yet...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...get anything for the money.
  • David Boder: There was money in the lager.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [In the] later it was different. There was special canteen money...
  • David Boder: Nu, and what...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...for which we received...which we received two marks a week...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and for this one could get one [bowl of] soup...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...with a liter of beer.
  • David Boder: What is that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A liter of beer.
  • David Boder: A little beer?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A liter...
  • David Boder: A liter beer.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Beer.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That was all...
  • David Boder: And what... [interrupted]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...we could get. This we could get on Sunday.
  • David Boder: Eh... [interrupted]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Further, money did not interest us any.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Yes, gold or dollars did interest us, because among us we traded. And there were those who traded with the Germans.
  • David Boder: There were prisoners who traded... [interrupted]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Prisoners...of us who traded with the Germans of...with the SS.
  • David Boder: Wasn't it dangerous, the SS?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It was dangerous, but, if they needed anything, they became 'out of danger.'
  • David Boder: Hm. When the SS... [interrupted]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: If it was in their interest they became 'out of danger.'
  • David Boder: And what did the SS men need dollars for?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: What did they need dollars for? It was for putting away for after the war.
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It is self-understood.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Gold or other things.
  • David Boder: Yes. This was traded.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Then...
  • David Boder: Nu, how did the liberation come about?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The liberation came about ....Wait. Now I will tell you what happened...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...with the...with the remaining Jews.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There were two thousand three-hundred Jews still in Czestochowa...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...who still remained. The remaining Jews....We had been sent to Czestochowa [he means Buchenwald] nine hundred men. The remaining Jews who stayed behind, two thousand three hundred Jews, among [whom] were older people, women and children, children from two years old and up [?].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They were [to be sent] next day [in the] evening. We had been sent on Tuesday. Tomorrow Wednesday night, they were also supposed to be sent to Buchenwald.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They were taken out to the train around three-quarters to eleven.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: But the German were badly informed about the Russians' being already near Czestochowa, and around eleven o'clock...the Russians scouts...the tanks...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...entered the town.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So, that the Germans who drove the two thousand three hundred Jews became confused and they ran away and the Jews became liberated.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So that I myself transmitted regards here in France, to people that I knew...on the supposition...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I based it on this, that I knew that they had been liberated, so I knew to give regards to families...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...hundred percent that those people had remained alive.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And they did write letters.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: To cities that I knew they had been living in, and they have received answers. So, they can...they came to France too.
  • David Boder: Nu, and where is your family?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: My family...till now I have had no news. Hopies I do not have, and there has remained no one.
  • David Boder: And...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Of eighty-one persons altogether who made up the family, aunts and uncles and cousins...
  • David Boder: How many persons?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Eighty-one persons.
  • David Boder: Eighty-one.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I am the eighty-first...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and eighty persons have perished.
  • David Boder: How do you know? Maybe...Have you asked? People...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I have already written letters everywhere and I have been answered, 'Till now we have no signs from them...'
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: '...and if there will be any, we will send you [word].' For the time being, I see nothing, no one.
  • David Boder: Now, here is this. What do you want to do now? What will you...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Now I am learning a trade, and I believe that...that in the future it will be easy for me.
  • David Boder: What trade are you learning?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Furrier.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Furrier.
  • David Boder: What is that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Furs.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Furs. Nu, fur coats.
  • David Boder: [Pause.] What do you make?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [In French] Fourrure.
  • David Boder: Furrier?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Furrier.
  • David Boder: Oh! With skins.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Skins.
  • David Boder: Oh! And where do you want to remain?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I am telling you, I have no hopes. In America I have no family.
  • David Boder: You have no family?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: No.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In other...other countries neither...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So the only way out for me is...Palestine. I don't know how I stand with it. In the meantime I expect to remain in France.
  • David Boder: Yes? One doesn't make out much with furs in Palestine.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: If I go to Palestine, naturally, I won't stay with this trade.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There are other trades. There are 'Kibbutzim" [communal farms], but because of this one thing, I don't want to join a Kibbutz, because I picture it to myself...it is the same as in a lager.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A kibbutz.
  • David Boder: Yes. The same as what? As in a...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Like in camp, a living together [communal life]. And I don't like such a 'living together.'
  • David Boder: Hm. You do not like 'living together.'
  • Mendel Herskovitz: No. I have already had enough.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I remember at home we had a family life, and this...to this...for that I am longing again.
  • David Boder: You long for a family life, and you have no family in America?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: No. I have no family in America, so that I have no way out...
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...but to remain here.
  • David Boder: Now, if you can do it...I want...I want you to tell me which moment of that whole time...which moment was the worst moment.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The worst?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [Thinks.] I did not have any particularly bad moments. I did hunger.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: But it was according...according to the whole time, there was only a small percentage [of time] and I hungered. Even in the Ghetto I did also. Among us it was called 'organizing.' [Footnote: The word 'organizing' was a synonym in code for stealing.]
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Too kosher [legitimate] it was not, but for the hungry one it was called kosher.
  • David Boder: Hm?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So whichever way we could help ourselves, we helped [ourselves] so that the family at home also had...also did...hungered much less because of...that...that I helped to earn, so that there should be more food in the house.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And a bad moment that I did have has to be combined with the...with the liberation.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: One day, suddenly....This could have been...or...this could have been... [recollects] on the seventh of April. In the evening, about four o'clock there came an announcement from...through the radio...from the lager elder, a German, an SS man. The announcement went thus: 'Hello, hello. All Jews in the lager fall in on the appell square. The block elders will see to it that the Jews shall march out.' A terror gripped the Jews who were in camp.
  • David Boder: Was this in Buchenwald?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This was in Buchenwald.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A terror gripped the Jews who were in camp. One...one knew what one goes up for. So that...[we knew] to especially isolate us so that we should remain alive, they don't want. And the contrary a hundred percent yes. So that...so, we didn't go. On that...on that particular day we didn't go.
  • David Boder: How? How can one not go when one is called?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We said we are not going, and we did not go?[Footnote: This pertained only to the youth barrack, which had, with the sanction of a kind of barracks chief, refused to go. The Jews in other barracks did go. See the interview with Israel Unikowski. B.W.]
  • David Boder: How long was this before the liberation?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This had....Before the liberation? It was four days. Because on the eleventh...
  • David Boder: Oh!
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Buchenwald became liberated.
  • David Boder: Hm. One did not go, and what did the SS do?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We did not go. In the meantime there was another [announcement through the] radio [to] the block elder that tomorrow morning...that [in the meantime] the Jews should be let back into the lagers, and tomorrow morning around six there will be an appell.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: An appell of the whole camp, and it was said especially the Jews will be picked out.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We were let back into the camps. In the meantime one can imagine the panic that had reigned in camp...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...till we already heard the [announcement over the] radio that we can go back into the lager.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We ran around and there were given...there were thirty per cent of the prisoners.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...who...of other nations, not Jews, who were for us, who also cried that we should not go. I personally came into a block of Frenchmen...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...who...There was one there who...he recognized that I was a Jew. He came over to me and gave me a....In camp one wore a red three-cornered [triangular] insignia.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Every nation had it own inscription. Frenchmen had an 'F'.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: If there were Germans, they had a blue one without anything, without any inscription. Poles had a 'P'. Other nations had the first...the first letter of their...of the name of their country. He gave me a....I spoke Polish. French I did not know then. So he gave me a three-cornered sign [triangle], a red one with a 'P'. This denoted a Pole.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Like that...like that I sat there till eleven at night. At eleven was the call from the radio that we can go back to the lager and we slept through the whole night. About five in the morning we were awakened. We received twenty-five deka of bread...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...with two deka of margarin. This we ate with coffee, and...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...we went out on the appell square. On the appell square a counting took place with a lot of SS men. And they began to isolate...they began to put the Jews separately. Jews saw what was in store. They began to run away.
  • David Boder: Did they not call out the guard, yes, to the appell?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They took out especially the Jews. But the Jews knew what this is for. They began to run away. The SS men ran after them. They fired twice [?]. He who could hide himself, hid himself, and the rest all were taken...[The spool ends in mid-sentence.]
  • David Boder: [In English] This spool has at the start a wrong identification. It is not 95. It is spool 9-10, a continuation of spool 9-9 of the original spool 9 of Herskovtiz's report. Boder.
  • Herman Barnett: Spool number 95. Spool number 95. Recording start.
  • David Boder: This is a continuation of Spool 9. It is still... still Mendel Herskovitz and he is in the middle of the story of the last act... eh, incident of Buchenwald.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] Nu, and so?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We were taken....There was a campt DAW [Deutsche Automobil Werke]. These had been factories around Buchenwald which, at that time, had been bombed and were in ruins. There the Jews were separately gathered.
  • David Boder: What kind of camp?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Near...near Buchenwald...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...were barracks which were called D-A-W.
  • David Boder: How?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: D-A-W.
  • David Boder: D-A-W.?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: When a transport was sent away...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...they were gathered in there.
  • David Boder: By train or by trucks?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There the railroad was near the lager. It wasn't far from camp.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We were gathered there, and we sat there two days.
  • David Boder: In the RR-cars?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In the barracks. There were barracks there.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We were four thousand men to a barrack.
  • David Boder: And how many were taken from Buchenwald?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Jews were gathered then around...there could have been around eight thousand Jews.
  • David Boder: Eight thousand Jews from Buchenwald.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Eight thousand Jews.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Suddenly, one day, the next day or the day after, it was...were taken out the first- I was in the first barrack- - were taken out around...it was five in the morning SS men came in and told everybody to go outside. The floor was made out of stone, so we built a fire. We tore off board that lay there...
  • David Boder: Who did?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...from the walls. We [did].
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We built there a fire- - it was in the middle of winter.
  • David Boder: The fires were built outside.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Not outside but inside. And so we sat around and told stories...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ..[about] various things. And bewailed our...
  • David Boder: And.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...our plight in which we are. Suddenly, around five in the morning, we arose. Germans come in and tell everybody to go out.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I have...have understood that which everybody understood. But... I understood what the going out was for, especially...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So I looked for a place to hide myself. There was a boiler for steam [a steam boiler].
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A boiler for steam. For heating the hall.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Heated it hadn't been...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...naturally.
  • David Boder: Hm. What kind of hall...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: But the boiler stood...
  • David Boder: What had the hall been before?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The hall...Before there might have been a factory.
  • David Boder: Aha. So there was an oven.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So there stood a steam-oven [boiler].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I searched for an entry into it.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Find it I couldn't. But yet, I found...I was able to squeeze myself behind where there was...where the coal was put in.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Where the oven was fired...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I barely made it in there. I went in feet first...
  • David Boder: Uh-huh.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...that the head should stick out so that I should be able to look out every so often.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I wore an overcoat so I put it underneath, where the ashes come out. Thus I lay there till [for] twenty-four hours. After twenty-four hours...
  • David Boder: Did you have anything to eat?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I ate absolutely nothing. I didn't fell that I am hungry.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So big was the fright.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: After twenty-four hours I went out. It was early morning, next day in the early morning. I went out. That...that barracks was already free of guards. It wasn't guarded, because nobody was supposed to have been in there any more. That I was here, nobody knew, because I had been hiding. I went out and was going to go over to the second barrack which was still full of Jews who were supposed to have been sent on another day. One the way meets me...meets me a sentry who was standing...a German who was standing there. He asks me, 'Why are you going?' So I answer him as...as if nothing ever happened. 'I was here in the latrine and now I am going back to the barrack.' So he told me...
  • David Boder: Didn't you have a French uniform?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The uniform I didn't have. I only had the badge.
  • David Boder: You only had the badge, nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: But I did go over again. I went into that block and there I stayed til...till a certain time.
  • David Boder: And who was in the block?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In the block already were Jews with Russians. They already began to add from other nations because the entire lager was already supposed to be evacuated.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There we stayed for three days.
  • David Boder: What was done with the other Jews who had been gathered?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The remaining Jews were led out...were led along the road and, according to the information we have received from a sparse few who showed up later, that the remaining were all...were all slain. They were all shot on the way. There were such people who did not have the strength to walk any farther, and they fell down, and as soon as they sat down they were immediately shot.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This happened among the Jews who went on the road [were evacuated]. The remaining, who stayed behind in the other blocks, after three days, on an afternoon, were all told to return to their lager and the last lager was to be evacuated. [Pause.] We returned to the lager around seven in the evening. We slept there. Next morning there was radio [announcement] that an evacuation of the whole lager is taking place, block-wise. Blocks there were...there were in Buchenwald eighty thousand people. Among them were thirty-five nationalities. The next morning one began to take... there was a small lager and a large lager. The large lager [ordinarily] went to work. In the small lager there were the weaker ones who could not go to work. So the first block of the small lager was taken. The last block...the seventieth block....I surmised that the small lager will be taken first.
  • David Boder: What was the small lager?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The small lager....There was a small lager which was purposely fenced off with wires.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And only later the large camp will be taken. In the meantime it came to pass that [from] the small lager one block was taken. And while the small lager was taken, I prepared myself. I dressed, took what was necessary for the road, and went down. I was located on the second floor. I went downstairs to the courtyard, and there I stood and waited for the departure. I already had told myself, 'We are lost. What will happen to everybody will happen to me also. I will go.' So after the small block [the small camp] which was taken on the journey, a German came over and called out that I was to go. The forty-seventh barrack I which I was. It came out that I had to stand in the first 'row of five.' [The formation was made up of rows, five to a row.] Because we were arranged in rows. So I say [to myself], 'No, first of all I do not want to stand in the first five. I will go down. I joined another one and with him I began to edge myself toward the back. In the meantime I lost the other on the way. On the stairs which I wanted to take to the second floor...so I looked for a way up. There were lined up prisoners who were old timers who were supposed to remain, who took care of the block. All people...and they...and they stood with clubs and chased down all the people from upstairs who had hidden themselves.
  • David Boder: Jewish people?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: There were...we were with Russians together. There had come a fresh transport of Aryans.
  • David Boder: But...but the old-timers? The...the...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They were Germans.
  • David Boder: Germans?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Gypsies.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Gypsies.
  • David Boder: Gypsies?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [With irritation] Gyps-...Gyps-...German...Gypsies who had lived in Germany.
  • David Boder: Hm. Gypsies who had lived in Germany.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Who had lived in Germany.
  • David Boder: So they were helping the...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They were helping the SS.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Is...I do not know myself how I got upstairs. There was on the opposite side...on the opposite side the moment I got into the entrance of... of the stairs into the corridor....There was a storeroom with ungetuigs. [There follows a rather comic dialogue based on the inability of the interviewer to understand the word or rather the specific enunciation of the Yiddish noun ungetuigs. The word ungetuigs roughly corresponds to the German verb antuen which under some circumstances could be translated to put on, to dress. The English word pull-over is a partial analogue. The word ungetuigs stands for all kinds of clothing.]
  • David Boder: Of what?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Of old ungetuigs. How I got on the stairs, I do not know, but near...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...near me....The moment I saw the door [of the storeroom] with old ungetuigs, I gave a look inside.
  • David Boder: What is old ungetuigs?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [With despair] Oi wei.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu, tell me, what is it?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [Pointing to his clothes] This here.
  • David Boder: Oh! Old clothing!
  • Mendel Herskovitz: What is it called in English?
  • David Boder: [In German] Clothing.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [In German] Clothing.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [Insisting] What is it called in English?
  • David Boder: In English? Shirts. Clothes. Clothing. [The above dialogue was omitted in the first typing due to an oversight by the typist and had to be inserted afterwards.]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [In English] Clothing.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [Persistently] Clothing.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [With satisfaction] I have learned already the word.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu? So you went upstairs.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So I went up the stairs and entered and went to the door where there was the [in English] clothing, where there was the old [in English] clothing which was inside.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Next to me there was standing a Russian. So I say to him, 'I am going inside. You shut me in.' So he says to me, 'Foolish child, you will be found in here.' So I say, 'Want to bet? Either yes or no.'
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And so he shut me in, and I stayed. I remained inside. The whole block was taken away and I myself remained in the block. About this no one knew.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: All those who were...all the caretakers of block who had remained inside did not know about this.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: After three hours I heard steps in the corridor. Somebody is approaching and open the door and throws something in and goes away. When I hear him coming, it beat...my heart began to beat faster than his feet were going.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: When he opened the door, one can imagine what kind of fright gripped me. I thought, now they will take me. I buried myself in the [in English] clothing that was lying still deeper. And so, he threw in something and went away.
  • David Boder: Who was it?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: After five minutes....Who it was I do not know.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: One who took care...who possibly took care of the block. One who had remained. After five minutes I got up, looked for the thing he had thrown in. He had thrown in half a sack of flour. [The next few sentences are spoken in a rather jovial manner.]
  • David Boder: It was intended for you?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Not for me.
  • David Boder: Ha, ha.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It wasn't for me.
  • David Boder: Ha, ha.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It was so. He had a surplus.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: - -He already had too much so he threw it in.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: When I saw flour...nu, at that, flour was also an item [of food]; uncooked flour was also an item [of food].
  • David Boder: What did you do with it?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I took it in my mouth. More or less mixed with what one has in his mouth...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and swallowed. This quieted the hunger a little. After two more hours....There were cauldrons from the coffee which was given in the morning.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They wanted to put them in there. Someone came and opened the door, with the cauldrons, and went to put them inside. All of a sudden he noticed something. He closed the door and went away. My heart began to beat a little faster. I...I expected something. What I expected really did come: he called together all who were in the block and he wanted to show them. In spite of having watched, watched so faithfully for the Germans, in spite of that, one is found...in spite of that one has been found who had hidden himself! They came over. I was wrapped in a [in French] blanket. I mean in a [in Polish] blanket. He began go pull on the blanket, but I held on strongly on the other end. I didn't let myself be uncovered. In the end I saw that I had no way out. Ten men were already standing around...around me, so I uncovered myself, and I began to cry and beg to let me go, 'I was left by myself. Nobody is here. Nobody will know about it. The Russians are coming any day now. Will it do you any harm?' They didn't want to know anything. They led me out. They took me by the collar properly...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and they led me out on the road where everybody was going 'on the road.' Where everybody was going out.
  • David Boder: Were they SS men? Germans?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: What?
  • David Boder: These people?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: These people were those faithful henchmen of the Germans...
  • David Boder: But, yes...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...who were also prisoners.
  • David Boder: ...didn't they have guns?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They didn't have guns.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Weapons they didn't have.
  • David Boder: They simply led you out.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Simply led [me] out on the road where people were going. And there already stood other prisoners who were called 'lager police.' They were organized by the SS.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They guarded inside the lager. I am coming out on the road. So I stop and look over what sort to sick people I am going with. I wasn't especially...especially weakened I wans't. The nerves still carried me, which made me strong. I am standing thus and look over. Quickly I contemplated, 'Am I going to the road? No! I'll see not to go!' I had a blanket over me, a plate and pot. These I threw away. I wore the overcoat [?]. All of a sudden I began to walk with a firm step into the sirst street between two blocks. I walked in like...as if it does not mean me. I only walked about ten steps. I thought that I have already succeeded, that I am not going to be notice, and suddenly someone calls after me, 'Hey! Come back!' I saw that I am 'in the package.' [I am cornered].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I had to get [back] and [in Hebrew] to my shame. Oh, you understand what 'to my shame' means, and so I go back. I was led out on the road again. I came out on the appell square which had...which had three hundred meters in length, one hundred meters in width. There, every evening, when the lager was still in shape, there the prisoners were counted...if everything checks, whether someone didn't escape. This square everybody had to cross. They went to the gate and went out on the journey. I came to this square. I stopped with folded arms and began to think, 'What does one do further?' I go over to someone who was standing there who led... who guarded the road so nobody should straggle away. He should go out on this road, I go over to him and tell him, 'I am fifteen years old. How can I go on the road? I have no strength.' Say he, 'That is none of my business. If you were brought out here you have to go.'
  • David Boder: How old were you?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I was fifteen years old at that time.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I was pushed from one to the next one. I was pushed till I came half way....I was already half way across the square. I stopped and said, 'No! I am not going any farther!' And I looked around. I saw there were sick people lying. Whether they were really sick or were doing the same trick that I was going to do, I do not know. Suddenly, I threw myself down! I threw myself on the ground.
  • David Boder: And so?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I threw myself down. I am dead. I have died. This is the end. I can't go any farther. Suddenly, I hear that they are beginning to gather the sick, the dead.
  • David Boder: Where? On the road or on the square?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: On the square where one was lying...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...where one was [word not clear].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Suddenly a German comes over to me and gives me a kick. 'Damn you. Will you get up?' I didn't say anything. I pretended that I had...I had died, but yet, with one eye I looked at him like this. With one hand I had covered the face and with one eye I looked out at him. He gives me another kick, 'Are you getting up or not" If not I pop you.' I didn't say nothing again, but I saw he is taking out the pistol and points at me. 'For the last time, I am telling you,' says he, 'if you don't get up I will pop you.' In this moment comes over to him...come over another SS man and grabs him by the hand...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and tells him, "But, man, it is a waste of the bullet that you are going to give him. You can see that he is already dead.' Then he gave a stronger kick so that I was...that...I was lying...so that I should be lying without...without, without...as if fainted.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: If I should be picked up, the hand and the feet should hang down as if...as if I were dead.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And he gives me a kick. I take such a fall...
  • David Boder: What does it mean...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A kick with the foot.
  • David Boder: Who?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A second SS man.
  • David Boder: Yes, but where did he...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: He gave me a kick wherever it happened.
  • David Boder: Yes, Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I gave such a fall over, with the head...the head down, and he says to him, 'Now see, he is already dead.' And they picked themselves up and went away. They went away and me....Everybody was already gathered...
  • David Boder: Where was that? On the road or on the square?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This was on the square.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They had already gathered nearly everybody. I got up and go over to one of those who guarded the road. I go over to him and tell him, 'I am fifteen years old,' I tell him again the same story, to another one, 'and how can I go on the road?' Suddenly, I noticed on the sides...on the side are sitting youths of twelve, thirteen, fourteen,fifteen, sixteen years.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Up to eighteen years the youths were sitting there. There was a block which was especially for youths.
  • David Boder: What kind of youth?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Youth, who had...
  • David Boder: Young people.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Young people!
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Young...children.
  • David Boder: How did you say it? Youth...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Youth. Youth.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu? And?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And I noticed it from the side,...from far away, that there was a block especially for youth. They didn't work, and I saw that if I won't work the hunger will be bigger, and when I did work I had more to eat. I say...I say with my mouth and not with my heart, as the saying goes. And I was not in this block, but I was in a block of older people who were going to work. I reported that I was over eighteen.
  • David Boder: But you were fifteen.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I was fifteen, but I reported that I was over eighteen.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I go over to him. So I went over to him and spoke a few words with him, and in the meantime someone else came over and also spoke with him that he should let him pass to the side. And while he was standing with him, I do not know from where I got the strenght to run over....And I quickly ran over...ran over to the others.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: To the children. And I sat down in a way that I was not noticed. In the meantime people were going on the road. One block after another was led through, hundred and thousands [of people]. And so it continued until about one or two [o'clock]. There was an air-raid.
  • David Boder: An air-raid.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Planes arrived, American [planes].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And everybody was ordered to return to the blocks. These who were on the road...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...near the gate...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...were also told to return to the blocks. We picked ourselves up and went back to the barracks. I went into the barrack which was on hand, mine or not mine, and in the meantime we talked things over, whether there will again be...whether one will be led out again or one will not be led out. We ourselves did not know which it would be. That day nobody was led out any more. A whole night it lasted. We slept through....It is self-understood that sleep we did not. We only lay in deathly fear that one should not in the middle of the night....They will set up machines guns and start shooting, or we should not be led out at night. This lasted...this lying and thinking, till around...till around eight o'clock in the morning. At eight we got up. Food, we received no food. It had already been a day and a half till two days that we had not eaten. And we waited for further word, what our fate would be. Around eleven o'clock there was an alarm. To know exactly what the alarm was about, we did not know.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Later, half an hour later, we found out that it had been an air-raid, an enemy alarm.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: An enemy alarm.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That meant, a half an hour before the enemy enters...
  • David Boder: Hm. Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...before the enemy enters there was a five minute...a five minute alarm of one [protracted] tone.
  • David Boder: Of one tone?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Of one tone.
  • David Boder: What was the meaning of that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That denoted that the enemy was arriving.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That Germany's enemy was arriving.
  • David Boder: The enemy army.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The whistling denoted this.
  • David Boder: Yes. Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That all the Germans, the SS men should prepare themselves to take to the road, that in half an hour will come...will arrive the Americans.
  • David Boder: Hm. So?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Our joy became very great, but we could not believe ourselves, that this was possible, that there will be...that in another hour we will be free.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: But yet we waited. We said that...something...something was sure. Believe it for sure, we couldn't, but factually it really meant something.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It lasted an hour's time. We already heard...we already heard shooting from the Americans, and the Germans returned it. We began to stream out on the road from which we heard the American tanks, the assault tanks. We heard rumbling. We heard rolling. At first, the first few minutes, we thought that they are...that they are German...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...but we had the lorgnettes. What is a lorgnette called?
  • David Boder: The...the...the...field glasses.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Field Glasses.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We had...one had it, a block elder. We looked. From far away we could already see the American star, the white one.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So that we already knew...
  • David Boder: That they were American.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...That they were American. We surged out on the road with our last strengths, which after two days, one can say already after two and a half of not eating, we surged out. We ran three, four kilometers through a forest, a field, broke the wires, which were electrified.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We brought wooden beams and with the beams we tore up the wires. We got out. We came our on the road. The Americans didn't know who we were.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They started to point the machine guns at us. They didn't shoot.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We put our hands up.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And there...there drove over a tank...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...with a machine gun in the hand ready to shoot.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And he asked us who we were.
  • David Boder: And what did you say?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: In English....We couldn't answer him so we asked him if he doesn't speak German, so he said, 'Yes,' he speaks German. We began to talk to him in German. We said, 'Here is Buchenwald.' He put up a pair of eyes. He did not know where he was. Yet, we saw that his joy was great, that...that...that a lager has been liberated. And so, he started to question us, and first was...there were older people...so he gave us cigarettes and chocolate and other things, with which one really...really could gladden his heart. I had another experience yet. I ran on farther. I had...I ran...I ran on another way.
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Why? Because I had a yen to go on another road. 'Let me be by myself near a tank. Let me see how...let me talk to one by myself.... How it will come out.'
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So I chanced upon a tank on which was...only later on I found out that he was a Jew. In the meantime it came out so he pointed the machine gun at me. He didn't know who I was.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And I went over to him. I told him that I was from Buchenwald. He gave...he gave such a shudder. He himself did not know...he didn't know what to think about this. And asks me in German whether any Jews are here. 'I say, 'Jews? I too am a Jew!' His machine gun fell down...fell down, down from the tank as he was holding it, and he jumped down to me and began to kiss me so that I have...that I didn't have the strength to hold out from the kisses that he gave me! And he altogether...his ears couldn't comprehend the words that I spoke to him! And he began...he began to give me different things. He had inside American...American clothes [ungetuigs] he gave me. And he took from me...he said in a few days he will come here to see me. And it really was so. In a few days he was here with me.
  • David Boder: [Question not clear.]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The American. That soldier who was on the tank.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: He came to me into the lager driving the tank.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And purposely searched me out.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And I didn't...he has...he has treated me...I have no words! And after that time I didn't see him any more because, naturally, he went on.
  • David Boder: What is his name?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: What?
  • David Boder: What is the name?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The name I don't know.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I went back to the lager I had...hungry I wasn't any more. I already had stuffed myself with chocolate, with other things. I came into the lager. There were lot of sick people who couldn't...couldn't, alas, walk by themselves, who waited for somebody to bring them something. So there I...I had a lot of things. I distributed to them cigarettes- -This in our lager was an especially important article which...it was very seldom that one came across cigarettes. If one did come across cigarettes... If one did come across...they were dried leaves from trees; And this, one smoked. And then came...the American began to come into the camp. After two days we began to receive dinner. This was still a day before. I got up, and I knew that bread I didn't receive from the American when I met the tank, but I knew that bread I will receive somewhere else, from a German who is in the lager. So I went up to the one who pulled me out from that...out from the storeroom upstairs [?].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I had already seen him...
  • David Boder: How was that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: He was a prisoner too.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I go up to him and stopped before him, and begin to look at him so. I ask him, 'Do you recognize me, or don't you recognize me?' He said, 'No, I do not recognize you.'
  • David Boder: He was a German?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: A German. That gypsy who...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...had pulled me out of the storeroom. So I say, 'You don't know me? Now I am going to settle with you. Wait!' And say to him, 'I am the one whom you have taken out from the storeroom.' He became shocked and pale, and he did not know what to answer. He was just in the middle of eating, so he gave me bread. So I say, 'No, not the bread I mean. Now I want to settle with you for that, because you took me out from the store- room. I begged you like a child a year old, that you should let me go. I am one, left by myself.' He says, 'What do you want to do to me? Do what you want with me.' And so, first of all I am hungry, so I took from him the bread.
  • David Boder: Why? The Americans were already there.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: For bread I was hungry. The Americans were not yet in the lager.
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: They couldn't come into the camp because, the...the...the soldiers who walked on foot...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...that means, they who made the...who began to make the arrangements were not yet there.
  • David Boder: But you said the tank came in.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The tank drove in only two days later.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The tank first drove in two days later.
  • David Boder: But the tank with whom you...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The one I talked with, he drove on...
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...and only two days later...
  • David Boder: Oh, later...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...he said he will come to me, and two days later he came.
  • David Boder: Hm. All right. Nu?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: So I say, 'Now I am letting you go, but, in a few days I shall find you.' I should have settled with him then and there because I searched for him later. In a few days he was not in the lager any more. That I could not help.
  • David Boder: One moment...
  • David Boder: [In English] This is Mendel Herskovitz. [spool has become very noisy.]
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] What does this picture remind you of?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This picture can remind me of only one thing.
  • David Boder: What is that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: How father was standing near a dying son, or a son was standing near a dying father, or a brother near a brother.
  • David Boder: And what doe this picture remind you of? [Aside:] This is #18.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [Pause.] The moment when we stood up to the knees in snow, shivering from the cold. We could stand like this for five [?] hours, on an appell until the block elder would decide to let us inside.
  • David Boder: And...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: And not one [many] perished at such an appell. About [?] women too...
  • David Boder: [Not clear.] Yes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: ...because no women were with us in the lager. But I can only imagine, according to what I see here. I can imagine how I was running with a pair of ghostly eyes and stared in front of me...until I was saved [?] by the liberation.
  • David Boder: And what is this?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Here I can only remind myself of childhood years. How I sat at our own table.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The childhood years. How I sat at our own table.
  • David Boder: [Aside:] Number one. And what is this?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Country place at home where we often went.
  • David Boder: That was number two. Yes, one moment. Now number three, BM.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: [Pause.] A sick prisoner and a hungry one, without hope.
  • David Boder: Hm. Well Mendel...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: That is all?
  • David Boder: That was good. We have learned a lot from your story. We have heard some in America during the war, but no matter how much one hears, it is not enough.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I do not that much of...I do not have that much in me of the poetical power that I should be able to relate everything.
  • David Boder: One does not need poetical powers...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I cannot...
  • David Boder: ...to tell in simple words.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: It is....How much one can...a person simply cannot imagine it, and a writer cannot describe it, every moment separately that one...what the one went through and what he saw that others went through. That on an evening a German could come in when we sat and we ate the soup. He could come in, distribute cigarettes, and suddenly take out the pistol and begin shooting those who were sitting. He could [words not clear].
  • David Boder: Did you yourself see that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I saw that too.
  • David Boder: Where was that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The bullet by chance did not hit me.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: The bullet by chance did not hit me. Surely I saw it.
  • David Boder: You saw it. Where was that?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: This was in the lager. [Pause.] In Dachau.
  • David Boder: Were you in Dachau?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: What?
  • David Boder: Have you been in Dachau?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I was in Dachau too, maybe two days, passing through.
  • David Boder: What did you do? Tell me.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: To Dachau we were only taken by train. Food we were not given. We were taken out into a barrack which was right near the train, and from here we were taken in the morning to go on.
  • David Boder: You were telling me . Who gave the cigarettes?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: I have told you that.
  • David Boder: Yes. What did he do?
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We were sitting there in the lager where...there in that barrack we were for two days.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: We received there a soup. It was in the evening.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Suddenly a German came in and he gave everybody cigarettes. Every body had already finished smoking. He took out the pistol, which was loaded with bullets, and shot at those who were sitting. And ten people...
  • David Boder: [Not clear.]
  • Mendel Herskovitz: He was drunk, too, at that instance.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Mendel Herskovitz: If he was drunk, there was not responsibility. That was just so.
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes Spool 10, a continuation of 9. What is the name of this place? Chateau...
  • Mendel Herskovitz: Chateau Boucicaut.
  • David Boder: Taken at Chateau de Boucicaut on July 31st, 1946. And the boy is Mendel Herskovitz now, at present, eighteen years of age, studying to be a furrier. He has no intention to go to Palestine, no intention to go to the United States, and intends to remain in the States [correction] remain in France.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • English Translation : David P. Boder