David P. Boder Interviews Helen Tichauer; September 23, 1946; Feldafing, Germany

  • David Boder: [In English] We are starting again. Munich, Septem- . . . Germany, September the 23rd in camp Feldafing . . . camp Feldafing, near Munich, a camp for about four thousand and several hundred DPs. The camp is located on a large compound of about fifteen to twenty acres, covered with armory-like buildings, which was a camp of the Hitler Youth. Apparently very similar to those school sites built in New Jersey, which I understand the Klan [?] took over for some time. The interviewee is Mrs. Helena Tichauer, sometimes, as she says, known in Auschwitz and here as Zippi. She is married to Mr. Mack . . . to Mr. Tichauer who was our interviewee on Spool 146, 147 [these numbers are incorrect]. Mr. Tichauer was called in our spools Irving.
  • David Boder: [In German] Now then, Mrs. Tichauer, will you please tell me how old you are . . . your full name and how old you are, if one may know.
  • Helen Tichauer: Tichauer, Helena, nee Spitzer.
  • David Boder: Spitzer
  • Helen Tichauer: Spitzer.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: Born in November, the tenth of November,1918
  • David Boder: Where?
  • Helen Tichauer: In Bratislava in Czechoslovakia.
  • David Boder: So then you are a Czechoslovakian subject.
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes.
  • David Boder: I see you have here a tatoo number. Where is it from?
  • Helen Tichauer: My number, 2286, belongs to the first numbers of the women who, in the year '42, March '42, arrived in Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Aha. Now, will you tell me how . . . from the day of the day of the action brought you to Auschwitz and what happened further?
  • Helen Tichauer: Now the action, how they actually came to Auschwitz, is in this case also interesting.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: The Slovakian country was given by Hitler its independence. As a price the then Minister-President Votetch Tuka gave sixty thousand Jews . . . he put them at the disposal [?] of the Germans. That is Erret [?] KH [or KA?] [A few words giving apparently the meaning of these letter are not clear].
  • David Boder: Well. How were these Jews taken?
  • Helen Tichauer: These Jews were 'invited.' First of all women were 'invited.' The young ones, that is girls up to forty-five years, to present themselves voluntarily to an assembly point in Bratislava. That was the Patronka. Not much was told to them, but [they were informed] that most of them are assigned to agricultural labor in North Slovakia. The transports arrived, that is, the people assembled in the lager, and to . . . to . . . the first transport of one thousand girls departed on the 26th of March from the city of Poprateck [?].
  • David Boder: '42
  • Helen Tichauer: '43
  • David Boder: '43
  • Helen Tichauer: A day later the second transport departed, again of a thousand women. We traveled all night.
  • David Boder: In what transport were you? In the second transport?
  • Helen Tichauer: In the second transport.
  • David Boder: All right. Now tell us what happened. You assembled. What did you have with you?
  • Helen Tichauer: With [two words not clear]. We assembled. Immediately the same day we had to surrender our identification papers, and we had to commit ourselves . . . the things . . . that means, fifty kilos we were permitted to take with us, and we had to commit ourselves to put at the disposition of the state the things that we have left behind.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Helen Tichauer: We were actually forced to comply with this form- . . . form- [formality].
  • David Boder: Now, how did you put that [the things] at the disposition of the state?
  • Helen Tichauer: Of course we know any more what became of them since a week later we were transported away from the assembly point, where we had been cut off from the whole world, with our fifty kilos.
  • David Boder: Now one moment. Where were your father, your mother, and . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: My parents were [remained] still at home. In general all parents remained still at home. The first transport consisted of unmarried girls who were called upon to cooperate[?, to do 'nothing' to avoid compliance] in coming. And in case they were not to come, measures would have been . . . [she seems to be cautious about her High German grammar] measures whould be taken, and the parents be taken instead [in retaliation]. For this simple reason no girl dared not to come, because for everyone the parents . . . the parents were to be considered [?]. Since one had the worst premonitions about these matters, one was ready to sacrifice himself.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Helen Tichauer: Nu. We were then, after one week, exactly after . . .
  • David Boder: Now let us not go so fast. Who guarded you?
  • Helen Tichauer: We were then guarded by the Grinka [?] garrison. These were the counterpart of the SS that time in Czechoslovakia, called SS, corresponding to the German SS.
  • David Boder: So they were not Germans themselves.
  • Helen Tichauer: No. The Germans themselves took over this assembly lager the last day, got people up, and conveyed them with the transport.
  • David Boder: Aha. Now wait . . . go on.
  • Helen Tichauer: The trip lasted a night and a day.
  • David Boder: Now then, in what kind of RR-cars were you embarked?
  • Helen Tichauer: These were normal cattle cars.
  • David Boder: What does that mean? Are there not-normal cattle cars?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes.
  • David Boder: For example?
  • Helen Tichauer: For example, cattle cars which at times have no tops, which are without roofs.
  • David Boder: Aha. Open RR-cars.
  • Helen Tichauer: These were closed cattle cars. These were closed and were supplied, of course, with proper locks so that we were unable to see the daylight, nor did we have an idea in what directions we were exactly traveling.
  • David Boder: Did you have a toilet in the RR-car?
  • Helen Tichauer: A toilet, no. But there were buckets which served for that purpose.
  • David Boder: How many people to a RR-car?
  • Helen Tichauer: There were about sixty to eighty people embarded in each car.
  • David Boder: In your case only women, is that so?
  • Helen Tichauer: IN our case women only.
  • David Boder: Only younger . . . [?]
  • Helen Tichauer: Only girls upto the age of 45.
  • David Boder: Then there were no married women?
  • Helen Tichauer: No married couples, because these followed only two months later.
  • David Boder: But were they married women?
  • Helen Tichauer: Married women, no.
  • David Boder: Now go on. Neither small children?
  • Helen Tichauer: Small children neither. At the border, approximately . . . The next morning early we noticed that we are somewhere in a strange region. After prolonged guessing whether here or there, it occurred to us that we had traveled in the direction of Upper Silesia. We were at the railroad station [word not clear], and we knew that we are traveling in the direction of Poland.
  • David Boder: You were told where you are going.
  • Helen Tichauer: No. About that we were given no information. Most to the contrary.
  • David Boder: Yes, but you were told at the start that you were going to Slovakia.
  • Helen Tichauer: At the beginning we were just told that [we would go] to North Slovakia for work in the fields. But when we saw that we arrived in Poland, we were of the opinion that we possibly may go to work in the fields in Poland, because there were already earlier circulated rumors that field . . . field laborers are needed partly in Poland, partly even in the Ukraine. We did not think much of it, because we were promised our return home within two months. And we were gladly ready to work up these two months only to protect in this manner our parents.
  • David Boder: Did you in general know already what is happening in the lagers? Were these things known in Hungary . . . [correction] in Slovakia?
  • Helen Tichauer: Actually no, because concerning women hardly anything was known. We knew about the German concentration camps for the simple reason that a large part of the immigrants, the German immigrants principally, were at that time tolerated in Slova- . . . Czechoslovakia, and . . .
  • David Boder: Those were people who had run away?
  • Helen Tichauer: . . . who partly were permitted to leave. Part had run away. And most German Jews knew what a German concentration camp was. But never in life had we dreamed that we, completely harmless [people] will be put in a concentration camp only because we are Jews. Now then, the next day, it was on a Sunday afternoon, at about five o'clock the train stopped at the station Oswiecim, Auschwitz. And in some way . . .
  • David Boder: Where is that about? Near what big city is it?
  • Helen Tichauer: Well, that is . . . Auschwitz by itself is a big city. However, it is located between Katowice and Krakow.
  • David Boder: Yes. [In a low voice] Please speak in this direction.
  • Helen Tichauer: We were unable to orient ourselves, because Auschwitz was completely unknown to us. That is, in general, Auschwitz was known [to us] not as a concentration camp. We arrived as I said already by five o'clock in the afternoon. The train stopped. We were received in kind of a strange tone [manner]. We only heard a howl, because the RR-cars were locked. Faster and faster out, and so on, and on. When the turn came to our RR-car we were chased down. Before us stood people in uniform, the kind we did not know before, because in Slovakia we had no opportunity to see actual skulls.'
  • David Boder: You mean the men had skulls [emblems]?
  • Helen Tichauer: They had skulls . . .
  • David Boder: Describe please the uniform.
  • Helen Tichauer: The uniform was a normal SS uniform, dark green, half high boots, a kind of German boots, Wehrmach boots. The flaps [?] on the . . . What do you call it?
  • David Boder: On the . . . on the coats.
  • Helen Tichauer: On the tunics were marked with SS, and on the cap, on the helmet [?], which they mostly wore, one saw a skull.
  • David Boder: With two bones?
  • Helen Tichauer: No, a skull, [just] a skull. That was the insignia of the . . . of the skulls. That is, that was [a regiment] . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: This is known. Now then, we were chased out . . .
  • David Boder: What does that mean, 'chased out'?
  • Helen Tichauer: With a, 'Out, out.' With [words not clear] so we understood that we have to get out. We were hurriedly lined up in rows of five and [led] in the direction of a door [gate?].
  • David Boder: And your things?
  • Helen Tichauer: No, the things were not given to us. And the things we never saw again.
  • David Boder: Did not see again?
  • Helen Tichauer: Never seen again.
  • David Boder: Remained in the RR-car?
  • Helen Tichauer: Remained in the RR-car. On the way we saw something that I hardly could describe any more today. It was a most peculiar sight. Half-finished stone blocks [buildings] surrounded with barbed wire. On the roofs, at the windows, stood striped, living corpses. I can't express myself differently. People without faces, [without] facial expressions, like . . . like made of stone. Next to them stood . . . today we know they were sentries, sentries so to speak, who guarded these prisoners, and [word not clear] who . . . these were men. When they say us, they were . . . when they in some way directed their attention at us, they were yelled at, so that they would not dare any more to turn their head[s], and continued with their work. At that time, as I understand it now, the lager Auschwitz was being constructed for us, for the women . . . to complete it, so to speak, because most of them were up on the roofs.
  • David Boder: [Words not clear.]
  • Helen Tichauer: Correct. It was . . . the men's lager was completed already since 1940 or '39, but for the women, who were just now expected, ten blocks were assigned. These were stone blocks one story high with basements and attics. We were a thousand girls. We entered the lager. That means in front of the lager was the gate with the inscription which gave us something to think [about]. 'Work makes free'[Arbeit macht frei].
  • David Boder: Just the same as in Dachau.
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes. Naturally we were of the opinion that we [have come to] a work lager. But not so from the gate on left side. If one would turn somewhat to the left one could see in the German language in printed block letters the sign Concentration Camp Auschwitz which, so to speak, aroused in us some obscure uneasiness. The thousand girls who came to the lager saw before themselves, before the last block, it was block ten, a crowd. We did not know at the first moment whether these are girls or women or humans altogether. They stood there in old Russian uniforms, the hair [heads] shorn bare, wooden slippers on their feet. And so they stood and stared at us. Then suddenly there were heard some calls. Certain girls had recognized girl friends, sisters, or the kind, and after long . . .
  • David Boder: You said they were there?
  • Helen Tichauer: They had arrived a day earlier.
  • David Boder: They had the naked heads?
  • Helen Tichauer: They were already, so to speak, established [?] prisoners.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: And so . . .
  • David Boder: They had already their hair shorn?
  • Helen Tichauer: . . . had their hair shorn already. We could not talk much, because we were surrounded by SS, but we understood that these are our women neighbors from Slovakia, and the conditions in which they find themselves. That was enough for us. It did not take long. That means . . . We had arrived. What we still left, an overcoat, clothes [?], shoes, stockings and such, was taken away, and in groups of a hundred we came to a block which was called the shower. That was a bathhouse.
  • David Boder: The what?
  • Helen Tichauer: The shower.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: It was a bathhouse where the women were bathed, were their . . . that is our hair was shorn. We were given the Russian uniforms.
  • David Boder: Men's uniforms?
  • Helen Tichauer: Russian men's uniforms, old ones. And in a few hours we were made equals to the arrivals who preceded us.
  • David Boder: Now wait a moment. This we want. Your things that you had with you were taken away, correct?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes.
  • David Boder: You were then taken to a bath?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Then your hair was cut
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Where?
  • Helen Tichauer: Where? One moment. Before the first Jewish transports arrived from Slovakia, there arrived a thousand Reich-German prisoners from Ravensbrueck.
  • David Boder: Men or women?
  • Helen Tichauer: Women, because in the women's lagers there were only women. We had no contact with men. This was not permitted at all. These were women prisoners who were already for three or four or five years imprisoned, and as punishment were transported from the concentration lag[er] . . . from the concentration camp Ravensbrueck. These women then clothed us, bathed us, shore our hair, handed us over to the SS. These prisoners, those Reich-German prisoners . . .
  • David Boder: When you were shorn and bathed . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes?
  • David Boder: . . . did any SS men come in?
  • Helen Tichauer: There came in at that time the lager leader, the then lager leader of Auschwitz, Superior Storm Division Leader Ohmeier, and many others whose names are today not known to me . . . and to inspect us like cattle. It was going on like a cattle show. They turned us here and there [right and left].
  • David Boder: While you were nude?
  • Helen Tichauer: Nude. Besides there was the SS physician Dr. Bodeman, that time the lager physician [?] who looked us over, and . . . I don't know, inspected us, and put us through the normal process of bathing and hair shearing.
  • David Boder: The men were present?
  • Helen Tichauer: The SS men, yes. The first night . . .
  • David Boder: The hair was cut only from your head?
  • Helen Tichauer: The hair was cut from all places, wherever their was hair on the body [word not clear], our eyebrows and also on . . .
  • David Boder: With scissors or with . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Partly with electric machines, such shearing machines, and when these failed [got out of order] scissors were used which most often were half dull. A few weeks later, after thousand of prisoners were brought during these months from Slovakia, from Poland. From Poland the first prisoners came to [from?] prison in Auschwitz. In order to have somehow an orientation, they started to proceed with the tattooing. The early methods were . . . have in fact failed. The early methods corresponded to a stamp. They arranged needles in the form of numbers, simply pressed it on the arm, and simply spread over India ink. But in a few days the tatoo was gone. Then followed the normal tattooing with the double needle which was applied to the left elbow of every prisoner in consecutive numbers beginning with one.
  • David Boder: How was that done? Did they scratch it?
  • Helen Tichauer: No, just by touching. That is a double needle. One needle longer, the other shorter. And this was dipped in India ink, and then stamped [pricked] . . .
  • David Boder: Does that hurt much?
  • Helen Tichauer: Hurt? We did not feel pain any more, because the clothes [a few words not clear] as such, the removal of hair from the head of a woman, all that [she appears very emotional], the whole transformation which occurred at that time has hurt much more, so that we did not feel anything any more. Because we were like . . . like transformed into stone. Yes? I don't know how to say it exactly.
  • David Boder: Yes, yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: But it did not affect us, nothing whatever they did to us. When our [finger] nails, our toenails . . . or whatever, nothing affected us any more. Because we knew that now we are completely [?] cut off from civilization from mankind, and that we were [now] on the 'other side' of life, on an 'other side' where, however, people still live. [Pause.]
  • David Boder: Nu . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Nu. The first night we were lodged in this stone block, crowded together, first of all, because it was . . . The lager in fact was not exactly ready. There were old straw stacks from the men's lager thoroughly rotten. These were spread out on the floor . . .
  • David Boder: After all that washing?
  • Helen Tichauer: After that whole procedure [to-do] . . . just in part, because there were then not even enough straw sacks available. And one lay down wherever there was room. Fixed up with a piece of bread, we spent the night. The following day began for us something entirely new.
  • David Boder: Who tattooed you, men or women?
  • Helen Tichauer: There were . . . This tattooing was really performed two months later.
  • David Boder: Oh yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: The thorough tattooing. The first tattooing was also performed by the prisoners, prisoners who . . . then . . .
  • David Boder: Men or women?
  • Helen Tichauer: Always men. Now . . . [pause]
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes. [A few words not clear.] The next day—it was still dark—we were aroused by whistles and yelling. We heard the word appell. Appell was for us something completely unknown. At the moment we thought appell is something for soldiers, appell is somewhere . . . pertaining to soldiers. So maybe they want to make soldiers also out of us. We got up, were chased out, and . . .
  • David Boder: What do you mean? Who . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Chased out by SS women into the yard. We did not know exactly what to do. Then came . . .
  • David Boder: Did they beat you?
  • Helen Tichauer: During the first hours I could not about . . . I don't want to talk about it at all. Then it was for us . . . we had . . . in fact, we were really unconscious [in a daze]. Yes?
  • David Boder: What does it mean, you don't want to talk about it?
  • Helen Tichauer: [Animated and in a high pitched voice] I can't talk about it. We were unconscious [in a daze]. I don't know. I don't know whether I senses a blow or not. It was . . . One thing I know. We were lined up, lined up in a manner so they could count on us, after much fuss. Naturally, it did not come to a count, because . . .
  • David Boder: Why 'naturally' not?
  • Helen Tichauer: Why not? Because there was a terrible chaos. Those SS women who then were in charge of conducting the lager . . . There was at that time the superior supervisor . . . the 'report leader' Margot Drechsel who at the beginning did not know at all what to do. She did not yet have any experience. She had the people lined up, and as soon as they attempted to re-count us, the number never was the same, because the prisoners in part did not know . . . one . . . in one group stood the sister, in the other stood possibly the cousin. People ran from one group to the other. In one group . . . in one group the strength [number] was larger, in the other smaller. So that the first days it was totally impossible to arrange a correct appell.
  • David Boder: Now how did they count? Were there [identification] numbers?
  • Helen Tichauer: No. The people were stood up five in a row, one [row] behind the other, and then they . . .
  • David Boder: How were the people counted?
  • Helen Tichauer: . . . were counted by rows [?]
  • David Boder: Not each person [was counted]?
  • Helen Tichauer: No, no, no, no. That was out of the question during the first few days. And in the course of time the prisoners, too, learned how to line up. The 'report leader' also learned how to count correctly, and as soon as the appell was correct we would disperse.
  • David Boder: How long did such an appell last?
  • Helen Tichauer: An appell, if performed correctly, yes [you see]?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: [It] could be over in ten minutes . . .
  • David Boder: But how long did it actually last?
  • Helen Tichauer: And . . . during the first years appells lasted as long as four hours.
  • David Boder: During the first years or the first days?
  • Helen Tichauer: During the first years, I should say, because we had . . . It time and again depended . . . There was elected a prisoner who would assist the count leader, that SS women, that is, worked with her. The prisoner during the first year was . . . for the first year I should not say an illiterate, but she could hardly figure. There was no consideration for efficient work, and she was not at all interested that the prisoners be counted up promptly. For the first time, in the year 1943, a Jewish woman was appointed report clerk. She attracted attention [by the fact] that right from the beginning she was appointed block elder and proved to be good. She was by profession a clerk [?]. She could figure, could write and read, and was interested to help her fellow men [a few words not clear]. And thanks to her, many, many prisoners are alive today from our country as well as from other countries. She accomplished that often appells were correctly completed in ten minutes, and in [cases of] rain or severe cold the prisoners could disperse in a few minutes. In two or three months—it was in August—there arrived daily a thousand girls from Slovakia, partly Aryan prisoners, political prisoners from Poland, from . . .
  • David Boder: Who was called a political prisoner?
  • Helen Tichauer: A political prisoner was in the eyes [?] of the German army anybody who in some manner had committed an offense against the German power. Even women, women of the German State, who had but a Polish friend were treated as Poles and designated as political prisoners. And so in August our number had reached the number of about seven thousand, and spotted typhus and malaria their first victims . . . [she is apparently confused by her own attempt at a 'higher level' of style]. Well, spotted typhus and malaria . . . when prisoners fell the first victims of spotted typhus, the Germans decided, the SS lager leaders decided to have the women's lager Auschwitz moved four kilometers away to Birkenau. At that time there remained in Auschwitz more than two thousand prisoners, women prisoners, who in some way were not well. The rest were relocated in Birkenau.
  • David Boder: Where were the crematories? The crematories were in Birkenau?
  • Helen Tichauer: Modern [?]. Modern [?].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: Crematory One was a modern crematory in Auschwitz which served only to burn corpses. The little white building which stood in Birkenau in the forest was [appeared as] nothing else but an innocent little 'cottage.' I myself had in the year . . . '43, in the winter between '43 and '44, a chance to step into that little cottage. Because this little cottage has all our Auschwitzian . . . [correction] Slovakian brothers and sisters on its conscience. This white little cottage had a couple of windows, a large iron door, and a sign, 'To the bath.' People were at that time chased into that bath, according to stories of people, of prisoners, of men whom I encountered above . . . these were men of the special commando. The special commando was the commando which consisted of prisoners. These prisoners were compelled to drive people into the gas chambers, to transport them 'in a state of death' to the crematory, and to burn them. These people had a few months leave according to dictates from Berlin in order to organize [?] the gas-killings. These people had then in the winter . . .
  • David Boder: What does it mean, they had to leave? They were in the general [?] lager . . . ?
  • Helen Tichauer: They were in the general lager, but were sent as a lumber commando. They had to cut lumber precisely around that cottage. And there I had a chance in some way to ask someone from the special commando how the people were gas-killed. And he showed me the iron door and the barred window. The people were driven in. It was one room. The door, the iron door, was slammed shut. Through the iron bars, through the window, gas was passed in, and the window 'automatically' [properly] shut. After a few moments, a few seconds, a few minutes, whatever the case, until the people were dead. They were put on lorries. And nearby there were pits where the people were burned.
  • David Boder: Then they were not burned in the crematory. They were burned in pits?
  • Helen Tichauer: Burned in pits, still at that time. I still want to reiterate that in August '42, when the women's lager was relocated to Birkenau and the two thousand sick prisoners had remained in Auschwitz, [they too] were gas-killed in the little cottage.
  • David Boder: Who, the two thousand?
  • Helen Tichauer: The two thousand girls.
  • David Boder: But the little cottage was in Birkenau.
  • Helen Tichauer: Correct. They were loaded into trucks and driven over.
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Helen Tichauer: Upon arrival in Birkenau it was constantly heard about transports to Lublin. We did not believe in the transport.
  • David Boder: One moment please. Did you work in Auschwitz?
  • Helen Tichauer: I worked in Birkenau. I also did work during the first weeks in Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Aha. What kind of work did you do?
  • Helen Tichauer: The first weeks I was in the wrecking commando in Birkenau.
  • David Boder: What does that mean, wrecking . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: There were still a few shot up [bombed] houses in Birkenau which had to be demolished.
  • David Boder: Did you live in Auschwitz?
  • Helen Tichauer: No . . . [confused] we lived in Auschwitz and walked to Birkenau for demolition [work].
  • David Boder: On foot?
  • Helen Tichauer: On foot. Barefooted.
  • David Boder: How many kilometers?
  • Helen Tichauer: Some four kilometers. [Pause.]?
  • David Boder: Now then.
  • Helen Tichauer: [Long pause.] Now then. In time they directed definite [?] attention to me. After the Russian uniforms which we were given did not suffice any more, it was decided to give us civilian clothes. Civilian clothes were, of course, sufficiently available, because the baggage was taken away from all the women and the worst clothes selected and put at the disposal of the prisoners. But in order to distinguish us from the civilians at all [the general population], that is we did not have any contact with civilians at all, but should there have come one or another chance to escape, and in order to be able to distinguish us, it was ordered by Superior Storm Leader Ohmeier [?] that a black vertical stripe be drawn behind, on the back from top to bottom. Since they did not want to send painters from the men's lager to the women's lager, they were on the lookout for a woman who in some way was aquatinted with paints. There were dry paints and the proper oil, and they wanted that the women help themselves to it. I was then the only one who reported for it. I did not know at all for what purpose. They looked for a women painter. And since I am by profession also a script painter, I reported.
  • David Boder: What does it mean, script . . . script painter?
  • Helen Tichauer: Script painter means sign painting.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Helen Tichauer: Now I got . . .
  • David Boder: How old were you then?
  • Helen Tichauer: Then I was twenty-two. I got red powder paint and a pot of varnish and brush shoved into my hand. I was ordered to mix the paint. And later prisoners were led before me, and I got the order that a vertical stripe be af- . . .
  • David Boder: Oh, you had to do that while they had their clothes on them?
  • Helen Tichauer: . . . to affix, correct.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Helen Tichauer: Now, so the work started. From dawn to dusk I was fully occupied. I had to make the red strips, and every prisoner to have the red stripe was so far in good order. He could 'report' and could now be tattooed.
  • David Boder: Oh, that was before the tattooing?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes. Now, however, it was a number [that was] affixed to our arm, to the left forearm. But in order to still more . . . in order to recognize us better, and to recognize us adequately in case of a control, they had on cloth . . . they had printed on cloth in the men's lager, which by that time had already a printing apparatus, the numbers which the prisoners had tatooed on the arm. In order that the men's lager . . . in order not to be dependent on the men's lager, I was given a printing apparatus, and I printed on tape, on linen tape, numbers from one to seven thousand, about eight thousand. That many we were at that time [in the lager]. I was then shoved into the office, that was the receiving office where every prisoner, newly arrived, was asked for his personal data, and as soon as the prisoner was through with the complete registration, he received automatically a number pressed in his hand, and it was his duty to sew on this number on the dress [the masculine pronoun in the preceding senntences is obviously used to designate both sexes].
  • David Boder: These were women.
  • Helen Tichauer: These were exclusively women.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: The printing of numbers came for me soon to an end, because other painting tasks were given to me. For example, I had to paint signs, numbers on a cabinet for the lager leader. In general various small, nearly useless tasks. When I . . .
  • David Boder: Who gave you the assignments? Who told you what to do?
  • Helen Tichauer: The lager leader.
  • David Boder: That was as SS?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes, Stibetz [name not clear]. At the beginning we had . . . the lager leader was in fact the leader of the women's lager and the men's lager.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: But under him was the head woman supervisor. In the year '42 we had the head woman supervisor Langenfeld. When we were already in Birkenau . . .
  • David Boder: How did you behave when she gave you orders . . . the orders?
  • Helen Tichauer: All out normally. We had to stand at a distance of thee meters. When entering . . . we were called for. In the moment we entered the room of the women lager leader or of the lager leader we had to present ourselves thus, 'Security prisoner twenty-two eighty-six requests permission to enter.' Then the entrance was granted. One received then an order. One was addressed in part by thou, in part by thou] a slip, apparently intended you] depending on the mood at the moment. The order was chosen [?], that means it was given, and the prisoner had to reply, 'Security prisoner twenty-two eighty-begs [permission to] leave.' That was the procedure. Now . . . in September 1942, I had already fever for two or three weeks. At that time when we were relocated from Auschwitz to Birkenau I had fever too. But we knew, should I get sick . . . that somehow has been whispered into out ear [that] one should not [has no right to] be sick. And so in a state of fever I printed numbers, I made [printed] stripes, and so have teken care of my work. I belonged then to the office of the commander as a draftswoman, was assigned to a block where there were no [not only] Jews, but also Jews and also Aryan prisoners, because the Jews were . . . Now there were in Birkenau two rows. On the left, left of the gate, were stone blocks where before . . . where once before were quartered Russian prisoners of war. From them . . . from the forty thousand who once were there only thirty-two [thousand] remained alive.
  • David Boder: What happened to the others?
  • Helen Tichauer: The others had died away [croaked].
  • David Boder: What does that mean?
  • Helen Tichauer: Had died away in the swamp and morass. That I know . . .
  • David Boder: What do you mean? Did you work there?
  • Helen Tichauer: We worked . . . That I know from those of the forty-two [thousand] who were still alive. To the right of the gate were wooden barracks. Those were 'horse-stable' barracks where the Aryan prisoners were quartered for the simple reason that these barracks were cleaner.
  • David Boder: The 'horse stables' were cleaner?
  • Helen Tichauer: Were cleaner. And there were 'exception blocks' for such prison[ers] . . . for such prison[ers] . . . for such Jewish prisoners who performed certain indispensable work. Because then it was considered indispensable, say to print numbers or to paint a stripe, or to draw eventually a little birthday card. So then these prisoners . . .
  • David Boder: A little card?
  • Helen Tichauer: A little card. Yes. So these prisoners were assigned to the Aryan block. Every night, I had every night the shivers. This was noticed by my Aryan supervisor, the State German, and she compelled me to present myself to the sickward of the lager. That was the hospital. When the acceptance was completed, after three weeks in bed, without treatment, without medicines, there came for me a most strange day.
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes Spool 149 with Helena Tichauer reporting. We are going over directly to Spool 150. Germany, September the 23rd, 1946 at Camp Feldafing, a large installation of the former Hitler Youth. I am here in the room with bare walls, apparently the paintings and so have been covered, [i.e.] the wall decorations. But the floor is of hardwood which could adorn any fine American home. There are about . . . I estimate fifteen to twenty acres of land, all with large barracks that the Hitler Youth occupied, and which is now occupied by about five thousand Jewish displaced persons. An Illinois Institute of technology wire recording. We are going over to Miss Elena Tichauer's [Mrs. Helena Tichauer's] report [unintnelligible] to the other spool.
  • David Boder: Germany, September the 23rd, 1946. Camp Feldafing near Munich. The interviewee is Mrs. Helena Tichauer, continuing from Spool 149. This is Spool 150. Mrs. Tichauer is continuing her report on her camp in Birkenau.
  • Helen Tichauer: [In German] Now then. In the year 19- . . .
  • David Boder: Well, in the year . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: In the year 1943, in September, that's when I came into that sick ward of the lager, that is in the hospital. It was as isolated block. It was block 27, a stone block where only Jewish prisoners were located, without treatment, without medicines, because medicines were not made available to Jews. One was three weeks here almost without a drop of water, without normal nutrition to live on.
  • David Boder: Please [?] describe the beds in the sick ward.
  • Helen Tichauer: In this Jewish stone block there were no beds. There [were] the so-called cots.
  • David Boder: How is that written [spelled]?
  • Helen Tichauer: K-O-J-E-N
  • David Boder: Kojen?
  • Helen Tichauer: Kojen, correct.
  • David Boder: Koyki, like they say it in Polish.
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: Within a height of three meters or three meters—twenty [centimeters], were located three such holes, so to speak. These were simply caves where room was found for five people when things were bad. When things were good [laughter—she apparently means when things were thriving for the hospital] there were many more [laughter again]. This about describes it.
  • David Boder: Yes. Were these wooden scaffolds?
  • Helen Tichauer: The block was about twenty-seven meters long. These were stone scaffolds.
  • David Boder: [With surprise] Stone scaffolds?
  • Helen Tichauer: Stone scaffolds, vertically. Horizontally they were wooden scaffolds. In length such a cut was about two meters.
  • David Boder: Oh, these were a kind of plank bed.
  • Helen Tichauer: Correct.
  • David Boder: Polati [wooden sleeping platforms] in Russian [?].
  • Helen Tichauer: So that one could lie down. In width it was two, about two, meters. In height, well, two times two, a square hole. Three such holes were above . . . one above the other.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: That is three times. The one on top was at the most advantage, because on top there was air and room up to the roof. The people were located there according to demand. If there were more sick ones, then five, six, up to eight persons lay on such a cot.
  • David Boder: All one next to each other?
  • Helen Tichauer: All next to each other like herring. If there were more room, then three or four could lie [on one cot]. Now then, so we lay there completely abandoned. People lay, lice-ridden, starved, and unattended. The first of October, 1943, came. Through the window—there were a few windows—through the windows one could see trucks going and coming. Later we learned that nearby, behind the block 27 was located block 26, and behind Block 25. block 25 was the famous isolated . . . [correction] isolation block. There were assembled the hair-sick, half-exhausted, almost completely exhausted girls, and every day departed a transport of trucks full of such girls. It was said they were going . . . they go to Lublin. But since within an hour the same clothes, that means the old uniforms with the numbers, with the sewed on numbers, would come back, we knew exactly that people were not transported to Lublin in the nude, and it did not take long before we got word that, [from] men of the special detail, that the people were gas-killed. On the first of October all sick prisoners who were located in block 27, where I too was, were dragged out before the block. They were instructed to sit down next to each other. There were that time seven hundred girls in the block, sick part with spotted typhus, part with malaria, with infections, and whatever else may have occurred.
  • David Boder: What did you have?
  • Helen Tichauer: I?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: I had come down that time with spotted typhus. I . . .
  • David Boder: With other people nearby who had what?
  • Helen Tichauer: They . . . malaria and . . . and small infections.
  • David Boder: All in the same plank bed?
  • Helen Tichauer: All in the same block.
  • David Boder: No. On the same . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: All from the same cot, correct. So we were instructed to assemble before the block, half exhausted. Cold it was. Three or four hours long we were sitting. Meanwhile before us passed trucks by the dozens [loaded] with girls through the gates.
  • David Boder: White [a confusion of the ending -wise or dozenwise, 'by the dozen']trucks?
  • Helen Tichauer: No. Trucks. These were normal . . .
  • David Boder: Oh, dozenwise [by the dozen]?
  • Helen Tichauer: Dozenwise, yes. Through the gates, in the direction of the white house. At that time already two crematories of modern construction were completes and in action. In the course of he following months all the regular . . . two, as a matter of fact, three [crematories] were completed and which they worked later on day and night on 'double steam' [to utmost capacity] when later on the Jewish transports proceeded to arrive from all lands of Europe.
  • David Boder: Now have you seen such a crematory?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes, but . . .
  • David Boder: [Hesitantly] How many people could be burned at one time in one . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: One thing I know. At our gate passed . . . if a transport arrived with a thousand people, and it always so happened that only ten per cent would get into the lager, that is one hundred out of a thousand. And nine hundred consisting of mothers with children, whether young or old . . . that was all the same. Whoever [?] led a child by the arm or by the hand was considered as a mother.
  • David Boder: As what?
  • Helen Tichauer: As a mother.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: Mother, child. Older person, sickish person. I should like later to return to . . . to how [the method by which] such a sorting out, selection, was proceeding, because I . . . [Pause.]
  • David Boder: Yes. Let us return to what happened to you.
  • Helen Tichauer: Let us return. On the first of October passed dozenwise [by the dozens] these automobiles before our eyes. Only later, when I . . .
  • David Boder: Now let us stick to that. What happened to you?
  • Helen Tichauer: Good. Correct. Then came our turn. There came Omeier [?]. The name of the lager leader . . . his name was Mueller. So Mr. Mueller also came over and said that everything [a frequent attitude of deanimation, of treating people in terms of discarded objects] that he has delivered up to now is still too little for him [to satisfy him]. This I have heard with my own ears. I was that time not any more unsophisticated with reference to all these things, because during the time when I was still not lying in the sick ward, I had been working in the office, and I only know that death lists arrived constantly and especially of those who were loaded on automobiles and then were never to be seen again. At that time he only said . . . it was . . . Ohmeier said it was not enough for him. Block 25 was emptied out. Healthy women in my estimation above about three thousand in number, who were then [transitorily or slightly?] sick, were shipped away [?] in this manner. Now came our turn.
  • David Boder: Healthy women were shipped?
  • Helen Tichauer: Healthy women, yes. Mr. Lager leader Mueller was alerted by his woman secretary who then worked for him, for reasons of race polution—she was a prisoner and her name was Anny Meier . . . Anny Meier—that I, too, was among the prisoners who were here in block 27. And I, before my illness, painted for the lager leader a few numbers on a box and was unable [then] to finish them. So he came up to me, and asked me what I was doing there. I replied that I was free from fever and would like to work again. So he said to me, 'Good, then you [the courtesy form of you] go over there. That in the Aryan ambulance [infirmary]. Let them measure your [c.f.] temperature, and if you [c.f.] have none, you remain, and if you [c.f.] have any, you [c.f.] go with them.' Often . . . on the Aryan ambulance then a sister [nurse] worked . . .
  • David Boder: By 'ambulance' you mean a clinic [ambulatorium]?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes. That was a wooden barrack, a little one [a shack].
  • David Boder: Yes. You see, we call an 'ambulance' a vehicle.
  • Helen Tichauer: Well, a clinic, so to speak.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: There worked a German nurse, a German 'political' [prisoner] who was there already about eight years, with whom I preciously had a little contact. She worked there. She knew exactly what it was all about. And she assured me when she said, 'Zippi, even if you had 43 degrees [109 degrees Fahrenheit] of fever, I shall say nothing.'
  • David Boder: What did she call you, Zippe?
  • Helen Tichauer: My name was Zippi. That is what I was called.
  • David Boder: Z . . . ?
  • Helen Tichauer: Z-I-P-P-I.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: Her name was . . . [recollecting]. The name escapes me for a moment. I shall later come back to it. And indeed, in five minutes Mr. Mueller came, and she reported that I was free from fever. I had to . . .
  • David Boder: Were you?
  • Helen Tichauer: I was not free from fever. I was given valeriana in order to calm myself and had still to sit there for three hours and wait.
  • David Boder: Outside?
  • Helen Tichauer: In the room. I saw then through the window how all my . . . my girls, with whom I lay together sick, were chased up the truck and driven out through the gate. I was immediately instructed to begin with my work in the office. Feverish, half blind, half dear, after typhus, I began with my work. I weighed then barely seventy pounds.
  • David Boder: How much do you weigh now?
  • Helen Tichauer: Now I weigh fifty-two.
  • David Boder: Fifty-two kilo?
  • Helen Tichauer: Fifty-two kilo, and that means one hundred and four pounds [115 pounds nearer correct]. The idea that I was on that day the only remaining survivor out of four thousand girls gave me the strength and faith for further endurance. I was a hundred per cent sure that the girls were gas-killed for the reason that we in the office have established, besides the card index by names, a number book.
  • David Boder: A number book?
  • Helen Tichauer: A number book. And every prisoner who had passed . . . died was marked up with a black . . . a red cross, every number. And prisoners who were gas-killed [were marked up] with a black cross. This way I had [in] black and white [a record of] what happened. Weeks later I recuperated. Meanwhile still daily departed transports of the girls from the lager. And in February, 1943, when the number, the number of prisoners, of the last prisoner, of the last arrival had reached the count of thirty-three thousand, of whom there were already more than twenty thousand Jews, there remained after a large selection, in February [one] thousand five hundred.
  • David Boder: February of what year?
  • Helen Tichauer: '43. [One] thousand five hundred Jewish prisoners, women prisoners.
  • David Boder: When?
  • Helen Tichauer: In February '43. The total number amounted then [to] about seven thousand. That [inanimate designation] which was not gas-killed, perished from typhus, without treatment, without medicines, perished in part from starvation. There was then even a large selection of non-Jewish prisoners.
  • David Boder: What is a selection?
  • Helen Tichauer: A selection is a sift, a 'natural' sift, which was designated by the foreign term [Latinism]. That was not a 'natural' selection. It was a selection [choice] of the SS. Now then . . .
  • David Boder: How did they choose those people?
  • Helen Tichauer: They judged according to their whim, according to appearance whether one is still fit to work, fit to live or not. There was a general appell on that . . . I think it was the nineteenth of February. A general appell was an appell at which the whole lager was assembled on a nearby meadow.
  • David Boder: Who [?]?
  • Helen Tichauer: Women only, and were then one by one returned to the lager. To the right and the left. This . . . this selection was attended at that time by superior supervisor Maria Mandel and the then labor service woman leader Hasse, the sister of the woman supervisor Franz [?] Coupulett [?] in the lager Muehldorf, in the women's lager Muehldorf. The going was to the right and left. And everything that went to the left went to the block 25. That time not only Jewish women went. A large part of those who went were Yugoslav women. Even state-German[Footnote 1: State-German—actual citizens of the German Reich as distinguished from Folk-German, citizens of invaded countries who collaborated with Nazis and claimed privileges on account of alleged German ancestry.] women thieves' accomplices [?], state-German political prisoners, state-German asocial prisoners, Russian [women], everything that was still on hand. Indeed, no consideration was given whether Jewish or not Jewish. But it was then that the last Aryan was gas-killed [the last time that an Aryan was gas-killed]. Then further orders from Berlin, because the women supervisors or the SS people made 'special actions' only then when Berlin would order to proceed with a selection. I want to give a little example. There were about two thousand typhus cases in the hospital. The lager inquired in Berlin whether it would be permitted to gas-kill the girls of the two thousand typhus cases, that is of the two thousand Jewish typhus cases. In about three months came the reply, 'Yes.' Meanwhile, however, forty per cent of these girls had gotten well. But the number two thousand had to be gathered up. So they took all Jewesses from the hospital who lay there, without exception, whether they had scabs or any other little thing. And so the rest which was missing from the two thousand, that is the rest who were discharged who were already well, was by . . . was replaced in a manner that they went through the blocks. That is, the SS went through the blocks. And this time, for example, they took a fancy to the barracks service detail who looked well. So they took the healthy barracks service detail. They took girls who at the moment were running on the road to the toilet. They took whatever got in their way. The number two thousand was reached. But that was not enough for them. They took this time advantage of the 'special action,' and raised the number to three thousand. And these girls went all into the gas. I know that, because I marked their numbers in the number book with black according to a list which we received.
  • David Boder: Well, but it never said in the number book what black means.
  • Helen Tichauer: It did, indeed. We knew: SB—Sonder-behandlung [special treatment].
  • David Boder: Hm. That was the name [for it]?
  • Helen Tichauer: That was the name.
  • David Boder: It did not say gassed?
  • Helen Tichauer: No. Always and again: special treatment. The commando [detail] who worked at it was also called Sondercommando. And according to orders from Berlin only such Jews could] or could not? See footnote 2] be gas-killed, who came with RSHA transports, that is verlockte[Footnote 2: This word presents a great difficulty for the translator. It has two most distinct meanings, and unfortunately there is no clue in the context. First meaning: enticed, allured, trapped. Second meaning: covered with locks with long, curly hair, possibly due to neglected appearance, or due to religious traditions of the Khasidic sect. In general it seems that the recollections are deeply affecting her mood. She loses control, in places at least over the process of verbalization, causing substantial contradictions and instances of confusion in the narrative.] Jews.
  • David Boder: What does it mean, RSHA?
  • Helen Tichauer: Main Superior Security Office [Reich's Sicherheit Hauptamt] Berlin. Jews who came to prison were treated as card-registered [exact translation: cardwise; from kareimaessig] Jews. They were entered in the card index. Their clothes . . .
  • David Boder: What does that mean, kartei- . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Card-indexed, a card index, no? Their clothes were card-indexed, which they, however, never saw again, and [they] were protected against gas-killing, against the 'special treatment.'[Footnote 3: It is, therefore, not clear whether these prisoners were or were not the same as the curly or possibly trapped Jews. See footnote 2.] That was the [their] only advantage. But if by some mistake such a Jew from such a transport would go to the gas [chamber], then a death certificate was simply made out, a normal death certificate—acute intestinal inflammation, etc.
  • David Boder: Now then, the card . . . What did you say . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Card-indexed Jews, and for that reason . . .
  • David Boder: Card-indexed Jews were such who were not gas-killed?
  • Helen Tichauer: Who were not to be gas-killed. And that is to a large extent the reason why we today possibly see weak older people who are today alive. [This is] thanks to the fact that they were card-indexed, that means prisoners from jail. These were privileged. Indeed, it was paradoxical.
  • David Boder: What . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: The people who came from the prison have definitely consciously committed something. The others came into the lager harmless and innocent, only because they were Jews.
  • David Boder: So then the criminals, so to speak, have remained alive.
  • Helen Tichauer: correct. A large part of them. Or they were at times whipped to death, were killed at work. That was already . . . That happened not only to Jews. So were . . . so found their end many others, thousands of others, non-Jewish prisoners. [In a low voice] Do you have, please, any question? [She apparently searches for suggestions for a new topic.]
  • David Boder: Now what followed? How did you fare? I want to know everything.
  • Helen Tichauer: And so I worked then in the office. My work consisted . . . Because I, after my illness, had completed for the lager leader the few numbers on his wardrobe, and I as a single one out of four thousand got out [was saved], they [the Germans] took notice of me. The SS [woman] who then was dismissed or transferred, and a new one came . . . [the latter] knew always from the others: This prisoner was favored by Mr. Mueller [the deficient syntax is, as always, that of the original]. They did now know why. And when it subsequently came to any kind of selections, so they used to 'forget' about me. Besides, I performed, in the course of time, tasks which no other woman was [capable of] doing, because I was a professional. They were pleased [?] by a properly looking card index, with little things that I did for them time and again according to instructions, exactly like any other prisoner who had to do work that was assigned to him.
  • David Boder: Now then, how was it . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Later on I worked as a prisoner in the office, doing always what was indispensable [to do]. Then came the superior storm leader Hoefler [?], that Hoefler who was hanged in [by sentence of] the Bergen-Belsen trial. He became our lager leader.
  • David Boder: In . . . in Birkenau?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes. I want to say a few more words in connection with Hoefler. At the selections which were performed at the arrival of a transport, of which I already mentioned that ninety per cent went into the crematry, Mr. Hoefler was also present. At times Mr. Hoefler, at times Dr. Mengele, at times Mrs. Upper supervisor Mandel, at times Mrs. Upper supervisor Drexel. It depended, alternating. That went on automatically, left, right, left, right. Whoever had luck got into the lager. And only those who got into the lager were tattooed, got their number, and were entered in the card index. Mr. Hoefler, too, took part in these selections exactly like all the others belonging to the SS. But thousands of male and female prisoners could possibly be thankful for their lives to Mr. Hoefler, because he was the one who undertook a most radical campaign of delousing. In all lager, men's lager and women's lager the typhus louse had disappeared. And in this manner prisoners were spared by typhus.
  • David Boder: How did he accomplish that?
  • Helen Tichauer: He ordered the clothes to be put into the steam boilers where the typhus louse was killed. The eggs, the larvae were killed. Often the prisoner was shorn, the hair, wherever he had hair, was taken through a bath, a cleaning. He went as far as to provide enough water and soap, and such delousings took place every month. This there was [at that time?] not a single prisoner in Auschwitz or Birkenau who was not submitted once a month to a delousing.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Helen Tichauer: And so Hoefler, exactly like the others, took notice of me as the draftswoman of the lager, put paints at my disposal, and arranged for me a small room next to the office where I worked. I got then the first, large task to draw up a diagram, a diagram of the labor force, that is, of everything that took place in the lager, the daily changes in the [labor] force, the daily additions, the labor force in the communication [? She says richtung] industry, in agriculture, and wherever else prisoners worked—to present that monthly in the form of a diagram which would then go to Berlin. I made that diagram once [one copy] for him, and once [one copy] for myself. And the last day, on the 18th of January '45, I threw a roll of duplicates of the diagrams behind the bookcase in the Birkenau lager, section [one word not clear] 2B. I think it has fallen into the hands of the Russians.
  • David Boder: You don't know into whose hands it fell.
  • Helen Tichauer: No.
  • David Boder: Why could you not take it yourself [?], afterwards?
  • Helen Tichauer: I could not . . . Why? I . . . we had to evacuate.
  • David Boder: Oh, you were evacuated?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes, and precisely before all papers, all the 'principal' books, everything was burned. And about these diagrams nobody knew anything. I threw them behind the bookcase.
  • David Boder: Where did you throw the diagrams behind the bookcase? [Apparently some trouble with the recorder.] Now go on.
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes. In order to kill time in some way, I undertook in this little room ro reconstruct the Birkenau lager in plastic [ a plastic model]. I obtained the proper tools [?] and all that was needed for it.
  • David Boder: You slept in a general block?
  • Helen Tichauer: I slept with all prisoners together. I was not privileged [officially]. I was not a band carrier [apparently a band on the arm to designate a trusty]. I was simply recognized as draftswoman of the lager.
  • David Boder: What did you get to eat?
  • Helen Tichauer: To eat? Exactly the same as any other prisoner. In the morning there was coffee. Then we [I] got daily five hundred grams . . . no, I don't know exactly, but it was . . . it was a quarter from a five pound bread. That still means about 500 grams.
  • David Boder: That is then from a bread of two kilos?
  • Helen Tichauer: No, two pounds. From one kilo of bread, 250 grams.
  • David Boder: Grams.
  • Helen Tichauer: Indeed, it constantly changed. One time the bread was for four [people]. Another time it was for five.
  • David Boder: What kind of bread was it?
  • Helen Tichauer: It was Wehrmacht [soldier's] bread.
  • David Boder: Was it baked [ a long time] before?
  • Helen Tichauer: Was it baked every day. Auschwitz, the men's lager Auschwitz, had a bakery.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: The Auschwitz lager as such was autonomous. The most diverse shops . . .
  • David Boder: Was there a . . . a . . . a gas factory nearby, in the proximity?
  • Helen Tichauer: A factory which manufactured these gases?
  • David Boder: A gas factory . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: No. The gas was [came] in cans and was called Cyclon.
  • David Boder: Yes, now then.
  • Helen Tichauer: These cans were seen now and then, because they were also used on occasions of delousing. However, for delousing there was more economy with gas that in gas-killing of people. That we know.
  • David Boder: More economy?
  • Helen Tichauer: More economy. Everything was always calculated. But it happened to be sufficient for the lice.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: Now where was I?
  • David Boder: Now. Then . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes. I have decided to mount in plastic [a model of] the lager Birkenau. And indeed, after three months of this work with another prisoner who [ a female] had assisted me with it, we have presented the lager Birkenau on a surface 2 meters times 80 [centimeters]. Afterwards it was placed under glass and was carried over to the commandant's office, [number] 2. I still have this plan in my head. Because the construction authority, although they processed at that time the plans in a professional [form], were always so busy, and the gentlemen of the lager, the lager leader, the report leader, constantly wanted schematic plans. They understood, of course, more readily the schematic plans. And so they came to me, and in this manner they kept me regularly [?] occupied.
  • David Boder: How did you draw, with India ink, with ink, or . . . ?
  • Helen Tichauer: I always provided myself with most necessities. Everything was available, because there came also with the transports draftsmen. There came also artists who were not so lucky to get into the lager, but their things remained, and these were [gathered together] in one lager. That was the 6th lager Brezinki, near . . . there was one lager in the midst of all crematories, camouflaged with trees, barracks . . . where there were barracks which . . . in which the clothes and everything that the people brought with them piled up. And precisely from here I fetched the things.
  • David Boder: Now then, where did you go to from the Auschwitz?
  • Helen Tichauer: There came the 18th of January.
  • David Boder: '45?
  • Helen Tichauer: '45. From afar we heard already detonations. We knew exactly those were the Russians. The last crematory blew up I the air, on orders of the SS, because the first four [her speech becomes hesitant] were by the prisoners themselves, who there . . . by the special detail [Sonder-commando], who all the time had to burn the people. The crematory . . . the crematories were demolished.
  • David Boder: Were they ordered to do so?
  • Helen Tichauer: [It] was ordered from Berlin. The nearer the Russians came, the faster they worked. And on the last day there was no more time. We had to leave, and the crematory blew up in the air. The prisoner . . .
  • David Boder: When did they stop gas-killing people?
  • Helen Tichauer: They stopped gas-killing people at the end of October, '45.
  • David Boder: '44.
  • Helen Tichauer: '44, on orders [from] Berlin. And the subsequent transports which afterwards . . . which afterwards arrived, no matter whether children or old people were not gas-killed anymore. There are still today entire families who had the fortune to come that time and to survive. Mostly Slovakian transports arrived at that time. And the last transports [narrative becomes ambiguous] where I myself . . . had little children from my family, were not gas-killed and remained [alive].
  • David Boder: Now then, did your family survive?
  • Helen Tichauer: No. These were just relatives. My . . . of my own parents I know through people who came afterward [after my own deportation] to us, with the subsequent transports in the year '43, that they [her family] were shipped off with the 'family transport' to Lublin. And of this 'family transport' we know for sure that nobody lives. In [from]Czechoslovakia, that is in [from] Slovakia, sixty thousand Jews were deported. Of these sixty thousand there are living [a] hundred fifty men and four hundred fifty girls.
  • David Boder: From Czechoslovakia? How . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: From Slovakia.
  • David Boder: . . . do you know these numbers?
  • Helen Tichauer: How? Well, all the girls came with me. The Lublin transports did not survive it. And all the other transports came to us. And the count . . . we of course made daily count reports by nationalities, which I in part . . . in part had to register . . . to assemble, yes? The count, in the last month the count stood for the girls at four hundred and fifty, the Slovakian [Jewesses].
  • David Boder: Now tell me, what happened then? The Russians came nearer. The crematory blew up in the air.
  • Helen Tichauer: In the air.
  • David Boder: And what happened then to you?
  • Helen Tichauer: And the men prisoners and women prisoners were evacuated.
  • David Boder: And you were among them?
  • Helen Tichauer: I was among them.
  • David Boder: Where were you evacuated to? How were you evacuated?
  • Helen Tichauer: We went in the direction of Loslau.
  • David Boder: On foot?
  • Helen Tichauer: In . . .
  • David Boder: Men and women together?
  • Helen Tichauer: No. Accompanied by SS. About forty thousand prisoners, to estimate, were then shot down, because . . .
  • David Boder: Where?
  • Helen Tichauer: On the road. Because we
  • David Boder: Then how many prisoners have left Auschwitz?
  • Helen Tichauer: [In an almost casual manner] Over [a] hundred thousand.
  • David Boder: [With astonishment] Hundred thousand, at the same time?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Now . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: And we saw dead prisoners right and left. Ahead of us . . . the men who marched ahead of us were, in large part, shot down, and we just passed the [dead] people. The SS at that time was especially selected for this transport, a large part Folk-Germans, a large part . . .
  • David Boder: Folk-Germans, who were they?
  • Helen Tichauer: Folk-Germans. Folk-Germans are all Germans who are not State-Germans, who feel German by nationality, claim to be such, but are not State-Germans.
  • David Boder: Not born in Germany.
  • Helen Tichauer: Thus Yugoslav Germans, Sudenten Germans.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Helen Tichauer: And Ukrainians.
  • David Boder: Germans.
  • Helen Tichauer: Who call themselves Germans, and so forth, so forth. Everybody . . .
  • David Boder: And they belonged [?] to the SS.
  • Helen Tichauer: These SS members of . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: Folk-Germans were in the large majority worse than all the others. We were chased by them, now north, now south, now east, now west. We could not explain to ourselves the chase here and there, because it was important that we get ahead, because they chased [us] away from the Russians. But when we were in the one place it was told that the Russians were five kilometers away, so we had to turn south. When we were here, we had to turn north. And so we arrived after a day and night in the city of Wroclaw, Upper Silesia, where we were confined in RR-cars, in open cattle cars in January, one hundred in each [car].
  • David Boder: Now describe the trip.
  • Helen Tichauer: The trip proceeded day and night in a way here and there. Just like the march on foot, so the trip by train, without provisions, in a storm, without toilets, with nothing.
  • David Boder: Still, what kind of guard did you have?
  • Helen Tichauer: Guarded by the SS. They traveled with us. We traveled. One did not know exactly where to.
  • David Boder: Still, you were not in fact without any food during that time.
  • Helen Tichauer: Without food, because there was an order that among about one hundred persons, one hundred women who were located in the one RR-car, two breads and a can of canned food [?] be distributed, because the SS themselves were hungry.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Helen Tichauer: We received the first day a thin slice of bread and maybe one hundred grams [3 ounces] of meat.
  • David Boder: Each one?
  • Helen Tichauer: Each one. The rest consisted of snow which we licked, which happened to fall. Later on, near Berlin, the population did not exactly know who we were, so they brought us hot coffee or hot water.
  • David Boder: The population?
  • Helen Tichauer: The population. We ourselves traveled in the direction [of] Oranienburg. And I was quite well acquainted [with the situation]. I knew exactly where the individual concentration camps were still located.
  • David Boder: How did you know that?
  • Helen Tichauer: How? Because we ourselves at the office have sometime transferred prisoners. Then there came prisoners from one lager to the other. We always calculated where what is located. I knew exactly. If the road leads to Oranienburg, then the road takes us to Ravensbrueck. And Ravensbrueck was a famous German concentration camp for women. Ravensbrueck . . . I don't know. I wish, before returning to Ravensbrueck, still to mention one episode.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: [Slowly] There were prisoners in Auchwitz who were assigned for experimental . . . for experimental purposes. That means they were forced . . .
  • David Boder: [Words not clear, possible: Where?]
  • Helen Tichauer: There were . . . in the men's lager. There was one block; that was block ten. Block ten was located near block eleven, the so-called bunker where thousands of executions had taken place, which I could once observe through the crack of some wooden boards.
  • David Boder: For instance?
  • Helen Tichauer: It was then . . . when we were in Auschwitz it was thus. One could see it. The prisoner was chased out, to the left. Then one heard a report [detonation, shot]. We learned afterwards it was a neck shot [occipital shot], and to the right one can . . . one could see through the crack mountains piles of warm human corpses. At that time Main Squad Leader Mr. Barich did the shooting. His neighbor [co-worker] was Mr. Stivitz in block ten. I myself was not there at the time when experiments were performed. Block ten had the purpose of bringing about artificial insemination. Shall I tell]?]?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: I hope you will be able to through personal witnesses to learn something about block 10.
  • David Boder: [Words not clear.]
  • Helen Tichauer: Now . . . Ravensbrueck. When I arrived in Ravensbrueck, I heard something different, and it is correct. Women, mostly Polish, were also placed in an isolation block, from whom then ribs were removed, who were converted into cripples, in order to implant them [the ribs] in German war wounded.
  • David Boder: Now how can women's ribs [be grafted] on men?
  • Helen Tichauer: It may not have been ribs. It may have been bones, a shinbone. It would have been another part of the body. At any rate, that is correct.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: However, the women were then not any more released as cripples. Ravensbrueck, too, had its crematory. There were also other means to kill a person. There were syringes. There were various other things of which you will learn from other witnesses, possibly from physicians who worked there. Ravensbrueck made on me personally the impression like possible Auschwitz in 1942, cold, disorder, dirt, famine. A chase [pushing around]. They did not know whatever to do with us. We are again transported away to smaller lagers, which were planned for [a] thousand people. And there came three thousand. One can imagine how the conditions for living and nutrition looked about, up to the day of liberation. Then . . .
  • David Boder: Where you were liberated from?
  • Helen Tichauer: One moment [wait]. On the day of liberation . . . it was the 3rd of May.
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes Spool hundred and . . . 150. Miss Helena Tichauer . . . Miss Helena . . . Mrs. Helena Tichauer. She started her record . . . her report on 149, and we are going over to the third . . . we are going over to the third spool of her report.
  • David Boder: [In English] Germany, September the 23rd, 1946. Feldafing Camp, about 30 kilometers or so from Munich, a camp for displaced Jews. Located on about a 20 acre or so reservation, if we could call it [that]. Full with two-story buildings, now with additional temporary buildings also, in which Hitler Youth was getting its preliminary training. The interviewee is Miss Helena Tichauer, otherwise Zippi genannt [called], and we are now here to the final wanderings which so often come through, where . . . where prisoners of war or concentration camp inhabitants were carried around and chased around [by the Germans] from one place to the other for some reason that they should not get into the hands either of the Americans or the Russians.
  • David Boder: [In German] And so where did you come to after these wanderings, Mrs. Tichauer?
  • Helen Tichauer: The last lager after Ravensbrueck was a small work lager, Malchow [? name not clear, but sounds like: Meistro]. But it did not last long any more, because one week before . . . two weeks before the end of the war the Red Swedish Cross . . . correctly, the Swedish Red Cross sent autobusses and officially removed the prisoners. I don't know [her speech becomes fast and erratic] what influenced them [the Nazis], whether the international [word not clear] was broken. I don't know what motivated them that they altogether set some prisoners free, and that aroused in us a bit of hope. There was . . .
  • David Boder: But you did not get out yet?
  • Helen Tichauer: I remained there. There came the first of May. The first of May was celebrated in our heart as the day of freedom. And the first of may we were, indeed evacuated from the lager Meistro [?]. And we knew . . .
  • David Boder: Wait [?]. By whom? By whom were you evacuated?
  • Helen Tichauer: By the SS. That was up [north] in Meklenburg. And we had an inkling, we knew, that this road may, indeed, lead to freedom, and they [the premonitions?] did not disappoint us. Behind the city of Goldberg . . .
  • David Boder: How many days were you en route?
  • Helen Tichauer: One day and one night.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu.
  • Helen Tichauer: There were on the highway people, soldiers, prisoners, how . . . whatever still had hands and feet [endeavored] to go in the direction of Luebeck. I personally, together with two girls, made ourselves disappear in the crowd, tore ourselves away. Before [escaping] we rid our clothes from the red stripe [she says: We removed our clothes from the red stripe].
  • David Boder: From the red stripe?
  • Helen Tichauer: From the red stripe, yes.
  • David Boder: How did you do that?
  • Helen Tichauer: I myself . . . I myself as a painter was always 'prepared for it' in painting my stripe not with oil paint but with simple red water color which, however, was adequate, and with a light [word not clear] brush the stripe could be easily removed. And that, indeed, I did en route. I have . . .
  • David Boder: And your girl friends.
  • Helen Tichauer: As well. We mingled with the crowd. That was not difficult, because there was too big a confusion [?], too great a state of nervousness [excitement] among all [of us], even among the SS. And in the afternoon I found a little farm house lying aside, to be exact, a farm where I saw that the Germans were moving out. That was the German Wehrmacht. And so I went to that farm and went to sleep in a barn. At night . . .
  • David Boder: With whom [were you]?
  • Helen Tichauer: With the two girls. But here we found already others roaming [?] through the fields. That is people who had arrived exactly at the same [idea]. These were mostly French war prisoners, some Russians, even members of the SS who have thrown away their insignia and did not want to continue [with their duties]. There was a conglomeration of people. The night was passed in a barn.
  • David Boder: What were you talking about?
  • Helen Tichauer: Talking? These were debates about it. Should we move on? Why then move on? We were driven [chased] towards the Americans. Why should we not be liberated by the Russians? For us prisoners that should be all the same, whether we are liberated by the Americans or by the Russians, or by the English. We want to be liberated. And it is a pity to give away still our last strength, because we are almost too exhausted to be [able] to continue ahead, at a running pace. We knew that the day of liberation through the Allied [forces], no matter by what nation, [will] be our day, yes? And . . .
  • David Boder: And what did the SS say, the German?
  • Helen Tichauer: They have . . . they were ready to remain here and to let themselves taken prisoners. There were also two Danes, or [maybe] Dutchman, at any rate from the Northern countries, two tall men who were quite undecided and did not know what to do. They wanted to get way. And with quite strong persuasion I told them that it was not worth-while, because eventually they could be shot by the Germans as well. They remained. And indeed, at night we heard in the forest, in the proximity of the forest, the thunder of cannon. Possibly these were even Katiushka. We were, of course . . .
  • David Boder: What is Katiushka?
  • Helen Tichauer: Katiusha [a different form from Katiushka] is a Russian special weapon. We were women and had no special knowledge, but we reasoned in a way [?] that on the upper . . . on the upper front the Russians used mainly the Katiusha, and at about three or four o'clock [a.m.?] silence settled in. In the morning we were hungry. There were potatoes in the yard [on the farm]. We boiled for ourselves some potatoes because we were hungry, and all at once we saw a soldier, that is, one in uniform. The Frenchman [prisoners] had retained their uniforms. We did not care any more about uniforms, because by now there was a conglomeration of every [kind of people]. And he greeted in Russian, Zdravstvuy. So then I asked him, 'Who are you?' He does not answer me. I noticed . . . I noticed on his cap the Russian Soviet star. And I ask him, in some manner, in a broken Russian, 'Are you a Russian soldier?' So he answered, 'Yes.' 'And are the Russian here already?' So he says, 'Yes.' 'And are we free?' So he replies, 'Yes.' And there was a Russian detail, an advanced detail [some words not clear. She may be talking about a single soldier] who looked [?] around and inspected the whole site and wanted to ascertain what was going on. In about ten minutes appeared on the highway several tanks, horses, marching [?] soldiers, automobiles, and moved forward [?]. Since they knew that we were prisoners they supplied us with provisions, candy, and the kind.
  • David Boder: Did they have the provisions with them?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes. They had already provisions from . . . where from I don't know. However, about that they had no qualms [they did not bother about the Germans]. They knew that prisoners were on the road. There were prisoners all along the road. They had no qualms when occupying a city or a village to requisition things and to give them to us. Because the prisoners were half naked, half starved, and were in need of the things. The same night I decided . . . yes, the same night I decided to go homeward, and one day . . .
  • David Boder: To Slovakia?
  • Helen Tichauer: To Slovakia, correct. It was the third of may. Within a few hours the American and Russian troops decided to meet [?]. the same night I stopped an automobile which as going back [to a place] about two hundred kilometers from the front in order to fetch [something]. There was a Russian captain. I asked him to take us with them.
  • David Boder: All three [of you].
  • Helen Tichauer: All the three. He . . .
  • David Boder: Were these Jewish girls [?] the spool becomes very indistinct for long stretches. Apparently some disturbances in the power supply] . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: No. there were two Polish girls present [with me].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: He took us as far as the city of Waren, where he let us off and brought us food and provided us with lodging.
  • David Boder: [Not clear, but possible: In a camp?]
  • Helen Tichauer: No, a [private] dwelling. And he told us we should . . . we shall rest up for a few hours, and [that] any automobile had orders to accept prisoners and transport them wherever they wanted [possibly: if on their way]. We arrived, and there were in the city of Waren . . .
  • David Boder: Where is that?
  • Helen Tichauer: A German city of Meklenburg. We met with various prisoners of all nations. For the first time [I] saw . . . I saw strangely uniformed [dressed] . . . that is newly uniformed who were still unknown to me. They had in their formation carts, horses, and bundles like all the others. And I asked them who they were. And to that they replied they were American war prisoners who now, too, were liberated, that they now were liberated, and that their aim [destination] was the American zone. And so they asked . . . they asked me about my nationality. [Her speech becomes animated and excessively rapid.] And I told them [?] . . . I told them that I was from Slovakia. And so they had one . . . one among them whose parents years ago had emigrated to America who, too, was of Slovakian origin, and even from nearby my home town of Bratislava. He was introduced to me, and he still knew a bit of broken Czech. We chatted for a while. Then we took leave from him and endeavored to get ahead [with our journey]. On the road we met a great variety of people, and all were nice, and brought us . . . we understood each other, and they [apparently also the Germans] helped us wherever [with whatever] they could. On the 28th of May we arrived home already through Poland.
  • David Boder: Not by train?
  • Helen Tichauer: No . . . by train only from Poland. All the time just however it would happen. Times on horses, times on foot, times by automobile . . . by automobile. To us it was all the same. We wanted [to get] ahead. We wanted [to get] home. We knew that we should find nothing at home, but of course the first victory. [The spool becomes very noisy and the speech indistinct. About two sentences (one question and one response) are indistinct.]
  • Helen Tichauer: I arrived home and right the first day I found my brother, the only one remaining form there. He himself was sentenced to two years in the prison of Bratislava beginning with January '42. Then he was sent to a Jewish distribution camp, from which he fled, and put himself at the services of the partisans. A year and a half he spent on the hills. He survived, and we found each other on the 27th of may [possibly a slight inconsistency in the dates], the only one who returned.
  • David Boder: Did you return to your apartment? What did you find there?
  • Helen Tichauer: The apartment was for a long time rented [to others]. We did not possess much before the war, and . . .
  • David Boder: What was the occupation of your parents?
  • Helen Tichauer: My father was a master tailor. The possessions which I left behind in clothes and sundry things were taken by my mother—she was my second mother—my master, my teacher, that is my boss for whom I last worked . . .
  • David Boder: As what did you work there?
  • Helen Tichauer: As letter painter. There was no argument [?], because he who saved my things for tree and a half years brought them back to me and returned them to me, without demands on my part. I came . . .
  • David Boder: He was of course, a Christian? A . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: He is a Czech.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: I came home without shoes [?]. I came home without clothes. The only thing that I brought with me from Germany was a map and a . . . [word not clear, but sounds like: my sorrows].
  • David Boder: Nu . . . of how many people did your family consist?
  • Helen Tichauer: My family consisted of father, mother, and three brother. One of the brothers I found.
  • David Boder: And what did he say about the others?
  • Helen Tichauer: He could not know anything, since he was there behind bars. But I know, through reports of others, that my parents . . . eye witnesses who saw my parents transported away, in July of '42. And that the transports are not alive [?].
  • David Boder: And the two brothers?
  • Helen Tichauer: The two brothers went with them. One was fourteen. The other was . . . the one brother [pause] . . .
  • David Boder: The one who you found?
  • Helen Tichauer: The oldest one.
  • David Boder: Now, you were . . . you had two brothers.
  • Helen Tichauer: Three.
  • David Boder: Three brothers. And the third brother?
  • Helen Tichauer: Two went with the parents to Lublin.
  • David Boder: Yes. And the . . . the one who survived in the third,
  • Helen Tichauer: That is the third, and he came back.
  • David Boder: With what partisans was he?
  • Helen Tichauer: He was in . . . with the Slovakian partisans, with the Slovakian forces [?] of Mikolash [?].
  • David Boder: Mrs. Tichauer, could you possibly tell me about some more details, about the life in the lager of other events which you actually have witnessed or experienced by way of proximity?
  • Helen Tichauer: Well, about the life in the lager I can certainly tell you, because I lived in the midst of it. But about particular impressions or particular atrocities, so to speak, which possibly happened, which I still have experienced, about these [words not clear].
  • David Boder: Well, it is . . . Well then, tell me what you still have to tell.
  • Helen Tichauer: What I, for instance, am unable to forget is the fire by day and night. Four hearths [ovens] . . .
  • David Boder: Four chimneys?
  • Helen Tichauer: Four chimneys were day . . .
  • David Boder: Speak louder [?].
  • Helen Tichauer: . . . were active day and night. And the pits which were installed in the year 1944 when again Hungarian transports were arriving, not [word not clear] transports were arriving, rendered a sight which does not yield to description, because one imagined himself in a living hell. One was encircled all round by fire. Our own lager . . . at our lager there was just wire fence, and thirty meters beyond was the crematory [number] two. And so it was not far. And one could see if he wanted to see. There were cases when one could see people stride in on automobiles or even on foot, and a few minutes later one saw naked corpses being carried out on litters from the bunkers. And what could one think about it [on such an instant]? One saw fire and smoke. One saw among the silhouette little figures, children—those must have been children—in pits. One saw only . . . one could . . . one can imagine how in the devil . . . [corrects herself] how in hell the devils treated their sacrifices [burned offerings].
  • David Boder: Now tell me this. You worked in the office as a clerk.
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Did you hear anything about the Gypsies?
  • Helen Tichauer: Of course.
  • David Boder: Now then, please tell me about it as extensively [with as many details] as . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Even most extensively . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: The Gypsy lager, the so-called Gypsy lager, was established in the year '43. From . . . known from . . . from sources . . . from certain sources why actually Gypsies were brought to Auschwitz, from reliable sources, I may say the following. Hungary, the land which retained its Jews up to the year '44, had possibly no interest . . . well, it just did not hand over the Jews. And Germany did not know by what means to 'obtain' the Hungarian Jews. In the year '43, at the beginning of '43, I was told . . . I was told by a [woman] employee who worked close to the lager leader that she has heard some whispers. That was Mrs. Wagener. That now Gypsies from Hungary will be brought in, not only Gypsies from Hungary, but Gypsies of all over Europe, in order to assemble them here, and afterwards to hand them over to Hungary, because in Hungary supposedly Gypsies are living in large numbers, but that in exchange Hungary should hand over to us [to Germany] the Jews. At that time that was rather unclear, because nobody knew about it. I myself had the opportunity . . . not only I. Then there were months when it was officially permitted to write home. I directed one card [post card] to a friend [woman] who had relatives in Hungary. Through the flower [through metaphoric, disguised wording], they understood that Hungarian Jews are to be expected. At the beginning of '43, that is, in the middle of '43, I had written about it, not officially, but of course through the flower.
  • David Boder: What does that mean, 'through the flower'?
  • Helen Tichauer: I for example . . . for example . . . I really don't have to use the [hypothetical] example, because the mail that I had sent home is now at my brother's. I wrote for example thus [here follows a mixture of German with Hungarian]. The friend's name was Grete [?]. At home she was called [name not clear]. I am [called] Ilonka in Hungarian. So I wrote thus: 'Gitti [?] that is Ilonka's friend, Gitti has relatives in Shuran.' Shuran is a Hungarian town. 'I have heard that they have the intention to join Ilonka. I would disadvise you to do so, because you have no chance to live there.' I could not write to her differently.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: But she knew exactly that I was Ilonka, she was Gitti [?], and Shuranians are Hungarians, Hungarian Jews. No man, no devil could then imagine that there was indeed the intention to bring over the Hungarian Jews. But fate came to be thus. Hungarian Jews came without Gypsies [in return]. Then Hitler had occupied Hungary and took [the] Jews by force, that is, they were forcibly taken, and the Gypsies, German Gypsies, half-breed Gypsies, Gypsies from Poland, from Czechoslovakia, from all other countries . . . I don't intend . . . I do not speak now [only] of the roaming [Gypsies] of the half-breeds.
  • David Boder: Educated [?] for what? [Sentence not clear.]
  • Helen Tichauer: Office workers, trained musicians, completely intelligent elements, that is, real [worthwhile] people, who possibly have served mankind a great deal and still could serve, were now lodged in the Gypsy lager with [their] families.
  • David Boder: They lived [there] women, men, and children together?
  • Helen Tichauer: Correct. And the Gypsy lager was the sector B2E. the layout was thus: S- [word not clear] was the women's lager. That was located horizontally, and along the street were located sector A, that was the quarantine lager for the men, B sector 2, that was the former Czech lager—about this a great deal also could be said—sector C there followed the lager street, a street. Sector D was the men's lager Birkenau, Sector E the Gypsy lager, sector F the men's sick-building, sector B2G . . .
  • David Boder: Well . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: . . . was Brzezinki [Birkenau] the lager in [at] the crematory. The Gypsies had witnessed the procession of all the Jewish transports into the crematory. They witnessed the burning. They were located within about 200 meters. And when they were invited [ordered] to mount the trucks . . .
  • David Boder: How come? Was it decided to annihilate the Gypsies?
  • Helen Tichauer: Berlin had decided to annihilate the Gypsies. Thus young Gypsies were assembled. They were embarked in RR-cars in front of the Gypsy lager. The rails were laid up to the crematory. And the Gypsies saw that their relatives were journeying in the opposite direction. And indeed these women Gypsies I happened to meet again in the year '45 in Ravensbrueck. But what happened to the others, that nobody knew, because the young were transported away, young men, too, but only a percentage [fraction] of them, a small percentage, and young women. And the rest were invited [ordered] to mount the automobiles [trucks]. They hesitated [were unwilling] and replied, 'We don't want to be burned with the Jews.' They were given peace [were let alone] for about two, three weeks. And then they were deceived [she uses a makeshift verb; sounds like: reduced [by the [manner of] transport of the young people. On the same day when the young Gypsies were loaded in the RR-cars and sent off in the direction of the RR-station Auschwitz, that is, in the opposite direction of the crematory, the old Gypsies then regained a bit of hope, and said that they too will be shipped away . . . but the transport went to the crematory. And what happened that night [she chokes with tears], about that was told by the prisoners who worked in 2B, that is, in the lager of Brzezinki. Frightful scenes took place there. A day later the lager, the Gypsy lager, was empty, and the following Hungarian Jew transports of men who arrived were lodged in that lager. [See the story of Calisaya-Kovitza, Volume II, Ch. IV, pp. 245-275; also in I Did Not Interview the Dead, pp. 1-25. —D.P.B.]
  • David Boder: Now, it is true that the Gypsies were not even gas-killed?
  • Helen Tichauer: Still, why not? The Germans had no interest to make their labor more difficult. On the contrary, indeed. The gas-killing proceeded with great courtesy. The SS were comparatively courteous and calm [?], because they did not want that confusion should occur. They wanted that the people . . . [they] treated the people with calm [or: they calmed the people], and the like, because they themselves did not want to be disturbed in their work. They enticed the people [into the gas chambers] in the most crafty [perfidious] manner. And since we are talking about the Gypsy lager . . . not far from the Gypsy lager was also located the Czeck lager the lager consisting of Czech Jews, who 'automatically' were sent with their families from Theresienstadt.
  • David Boder: Why . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Theresienstadt. [See Schlaefrig, Volume VII, Ch. XXVI, pp. 1135-1204. —D.P.B.]
  • David Boder: I know about Theresienstadt.
  • Helen Tichauer: Theresienstadt had transports sent to Auschwitz. Then . . . it was said that nothing happens to the people in Auschwitz. They were kept together with their families. They could write letters. They could send packages. And what happened after six months? Exactly after six months it happened so with the first, the second, and the successively following transports. When the six months were over, there . . . For example, of a transport the 19th of February the whole Czech lager was, without exception young and old, well and sick, were gas-killed. One day before . . .
  • David Boder: February '44?
  • Helen Tichauer: '44. For example, a day before they were compelled to write to Theresienstadt, in general to Bohemia and Moravia, with a date one month ahead, and when London immediately reported [over the radio] the gas-killing of Theresienstadt . . . pcorrects herself] the Czech lager in Birkenau . . .
  • David Boder: What did they . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: London reported [broadcast]. The Germans denied it [saying], 'How come? The mail has arrived a month later still from Birkenau to their acquaintances, to their relatives, from those whom you consider dead.
  • David Boder: They had to date it [the mail] a month ahead?
  • Helen Tichauer: They had to. Correct. One month ahead.
  • David Boder: Yes, yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: If they were gas-killed in February, they were compelled to write March.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: And because of that the Jews of Theresienstadt were deceived [she uses the word irritiert apparently falsely assuming a derivation from Irre]. There came further transports. They were again permitted to stay together with their families for six months, [and were] again gas-killed. And the last . . . [with] the last transports there came from Theresienstadt in part, young girls, already sorted out in Theresienstadt. Of those some are today alive, and the final transport was treated completely 'normally, just like the others. Of these [two words not clear] transports 90 per cent, too, were sent into the gas, and 10 per cent went into the lager.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Helen Tichauer: Such was the end of Theresienstadt. [She either means the end of the prisoners sent from the Theresienstadt to Birkenau, or lacks complete information' again see Schlaefrig, Volume VII, Ch. XXVI, pp. 1135-1204. —D.P.B.] I personally, in collaboration with a Mr. Schoehn, who was already for years in the concentration camp, a Czech prisoner, in cooperation with a [several words not clear] Czech woman Lotte Batja, a Czech Jewess, we have smuggled out plans [?] of the crematory to Theresienstadt, so that people should come afterward would know where . . . where the road leads to.
  • David Boder: Now then, you say that you have sent to the transports 'information' . . . to Theresien[stadt].
  • Helen Tichauer: Sent information. [The spool becomes indistinct; her voice fades.] Unfortunately the leadership in Theresienstadt has incriminated itself very, very [much].
  • David Boder: The Jewish leadership?
  • Helen Tichauer: As well. They were afraid for themselves. Because afterwards I met a gentleman who came from Theresienstadt, and who knew much about Theresienstadt. That was a Doctor Voolmeier who only heard something whispering, but could not learn much more. He was . . . [about 8 words not clear]. And to prove that these transports actually went to the gas [chambers] I can only refer [? to the fact] that I had to prepare the diagrams, yes? And if just from one day to the other the population would fall by the thousands, went away in transports . . . there always went transports from [this] lager to a work lager.
  • David Boder: [Not clear.]
  • Helen Tichauer: [One word answer not clear.] And besides, the fact that one sole prisoner got out of the transport, that was [I], the draftswoman for Dr. Mengele . . . or there were twins. There were twins who were saved, because Dr. Mengele studied [did research on] various pairs of twins, etc. And still in connection with this [her narrative becomes syntactically almost incoherent], with the deception about work transports and transports of others to the gas [chambers], I want to mention still a little event. One evening there were transferred to us from the isolators . . . form the isolation lager . . . two thousand women. All of the two thousand were bathed, dressed and prepared for . . . prepared for transport. We in the office knew that only one thousand women were to be transported to a work lager because we had written off at our appell this force [number] until the lager reported that the transport was ready. The other two [?] thousand were marked as 'SB treatment.'
  • David Boder: Sonder Behandlung [special treatment] . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Sonder Behandlung. And how actually proceeded the transport and the deception? Thus: there stood before, the lager RR-cars. And there stood trucks behind the RR-cars. First there stepped out one hundred girls. It was evening. They were driven into the RR-cars. The next hundred on trucks, the third hundred in to the RR-cars, the next, the fourth hundred, on the truck.
  • David Boder: Where stood the truck?
  • Helen Tichauer: Behind the RR-car, parallel.
  • David Boder: So that . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: So that the prisoners in the RR-cars did not know where the autos were going, and those in the autos did not know where the RR-cars were going, and . . .
  • David Boder: But they did not have to go through the RR-cars.
  • Helen Tichauer: No. two [RR-cars] were disconnected and there was a free passage. And then it started. The RR-cars went actually 'to transport' into another lager, and the other thousand were gas-killed. First, the same clothes came back, and second, we had to check-mark: Sonder Behandlung. So, one never knew how he stands. Never. [Pause.]
  • David Boder: Well. Now tell me what kind of, so to speak, home [shelter] or lager do you have here. Give me a brief description. What do the people have to do here [occupy themselves with]?
  • Helen Tichauer: Camp Feldafing is a lager which right after the liberation [was founded] by Lieutenant Smith.
  • David Boder: Now is that the UNRRA?
  • Helen Tichauer: No, at that time still by Lieutenant Smith, [from] the army which had conquered the lager, that means, which had conquered the region. This lager was seized by the Lieutenant, because he was a witness that thousands of prisoners stood half starved in RR-cars, without knowing where to [what next]. This here is a former state school of the Hitler Youth. The lager here was seized, the people [prisoners] relieved from their clothes, [placed] in requisitioned . . .
  • David Boder: What kind of . . . from their prisoners . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Relieved of their prisoner's clothing. That is these were taken away and [people were] clothed in pajamas. The Lieutenant Smith . . .
  • David Boder: Where did they get the pajamas?
  • Helen Tichauer: The pajamas were found here in the lager.
  • David Boder: Oh, from Hitler [Youth]?
  • Helen Tichauer: Correct. Lieutenant Smith quickly created a block for the undernourished. That is mostly . . . everybody was undernourished.
  • David Boder: You of course, were not here?
  • Helen Tichauer: I was not here, because I . . . When I returned home, my first wish was to come here [?] and to search for the rest of my family. And I found nobody here, but for my husband whose acquaintances I made here.
  • David Boder: Now then, what did Smith do?
  • Helen Tichauer: Smith started [feeding] the people very gradually. That is, he proceeded with the nourishment of the people gradually, starting with gruel and ending with the most solid things [foods]. The nourishment stood under control. The people were starved, were undernourished, and it was difficult to get the people back on their feet.
  • David Boder: So you were from the south, and other regions . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: Assembled and lodged here.
  • David Boder: Who actually was Lieutenant Smith?
  • Helen Tichauer: In the army.
  • David Boder: But . . . but a . . .
  • Helen Tichauer: A Jew.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: An American Jew.
  • David Boder: Do you know his first name?
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes. Irving.
  • David Boder: Irving.
  • Helen Tichauer: Irving Smith.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: When the army . . . and the lager Feldafing was at the time the only lager with the least cases of death. Day and night, in cooperation with my present husband and others as well, he worked day and night for the good of the people here. The people became . . . after weeks they recuperated, and as said [before], Feldafing had the smallest death among all other camps which were then installed. Meanwhile a year has passed. Afterward the UNRRA took over the lager.
  • David Boder: Now how was the lager maintained until UNRRA?
  • Helen Tichauer: Through the army.
  • David Boder: Through the army [word not clear].
  • Helen Tichauer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And then the UNRRA took over.
  • Helen Tichauer: UNRRA took over. And the people, in spite of maintenance, in spite of lodging, in spite of everything, are already very impatient, because everyone has only one single aim in view, to leave the country which once was hell for him.
  • David Boder: And where do they want to go?
  • Helen Tichauer: Go? They have one aim. Out of Europe. In part . . .
  • David Boder: Are there many who want to go to Palestine?
  • Helen Tichauer: Of course. There are people, young . . . mainly youth, who want to readjust, want to learn, and who [would] feel at home, let us say, in a national Jewish State. Mostly the youth.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Helen Tichauer: There is also a part of Jews who have a relative in America and have lost their whole European family and are assembling now the rest of such a family who want to spend their life with them. Also with the intention to learn near them a trade, to re-adjust, free . . . as free workers . . . free workers . . . in an American state [country], so as to live . . .
  • David Boder: Tell me, do you have any contacts with the Germans around here?
  • Helen Tichauer: [Hesitantly] Contact with the Germans? No. Actually no, because the Germans of Upper Bavaria have no desire [interest] to establish a contact with us. They have no intention whatsoever to feel in some way guilty, although we know exactly that Upper Bavaria has very few people, [they] have very few relatives who were [? were not?] in [belonged to] the Nazi Party. Upper Bavaria was the center of Party conventions. We have Nurenburg. We have Munich.
  • David Boder: That is they were all in the Party?
  • Helen Tichauer: To a large extent. And I can say only one thing. The German population in other lands [states] of Germany behaves completely different.
  • David Boder: Better?
  • Helen Tichauer: Better than the Upper Bavarian [?] population. And precisely for that reason one cannot demand from our people that we should have any sympathy . . .
  • David Boder: [Two words not clear.]
  • Helen Tichauer: . . . or should establish any contact with those people. We understand. There are children, innocent German children, who are as innocent as were our children, who also [the following words are not clear due to the affective tone of voice] who also perished [?] in multitudes. And . . . even have composed a song about it. All hatred must be brought about [cultivated], but we experience no hatred whatsoever. But we feel that we are actually still hated. Still hated!
  • David Boder: Now, and you yourself, where do you want to go?
  • Helen Tichauer: I myself [here follows a brief silence on a wire, 4 to 5 seconds, possibly due to failure of equipment] . . .
  • David Boder: With your husband?
  • Helen Tichauer: By myself. Not with my husband, who actually comes from [is originally from ]Berlin, [and] is a German Jew, but considers himself now actually stateless. I presume, had I not found this man, I should have liked to live in Czechoslovakia, would have liked to live there very much, because I felt there always very well [I used to be always very happy there]. I know that nation. I feel a bond with Czechoslovakia.
  • David Boder: Otherwise you want to go to South America.
  • Helen Tichauer: Otherwise [a few words not clear]. Otherwise . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Helen Tichauer: For the reason that my husband has the rest of his family in South America. In Germany we shall never feel well. In this country there is nothing [?] for us . . .
  • David Boder: [In English] We regret we have to finish this interview. The automobile is waiting. This concludes Spool 150.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription : Dagmar Platt
  • English Translation : David P. Boder