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Herman Schwartz

Herman Schwartz
Nationality: Polish
Location: Auschwitz Concentration Camp • Auschwitz II - Birkenau Concentration Camp • Bad Kirschen • Bremerhafen • Dachau Concentration Camp • Dzialdowo • Frankfurt • Germany • Grajewo Labor Camp • Kaufering • Missouri • New York • Plonsk • Poland • Poznan • Schaffenburg • St. Louis • Torun • United States of America
Experience During Holocaust: Enlisted in U.S. Army After Liberation • Family Died During the Holocaust • Family Died in Concentration Camp • Family Died in Gas Chambers • Forced on a Death March • Had Contact with Dr. Josef Mengele • Liberated • Lived in a Displaced Persons camp • Lived in Multiple Concentration Camps • Lived in Plonsk Ghetto • Sent to Concentration Camp • Sent to Ghetto • Sent to Grajevo Labor Camp • Suffered from Disease • Was a Forced Laborer • Worked in Masonry • Worked with the Todt Organisation

Mapping Herman's Life

Click on the location markers to learn more about Herman. Use the timeline below the map or the left and right keys on your keyboard to explore chronologically. In some cases the dates below were estimated based on the oral histories.

“[On May 1, 1945] all of a sudden I feel, I see, I hear doggone something is rumbling, the tanks. I says, I start wavin’ with the hand and finally the tank’s passin’ me by. And I was surprised with the first tank, what its number was, 874. This was my number when I went into Grajevo, to the first camp. And he liberated me. The boys jumped down and they gave me a cigarette. They says, 'Man, don’t worry about a thing now. You’re a free man now. We’re chasing the Germans now,' he says.” - Herman Schwartz

Read Herman's Oral History Transcripts

Read the transcripts by clicking the red plus signs below.

Tape 1 - Side 1 (Perry)

PERRY: Today is February the 16th and this is Tape A – Tape 1 rather – of an interview, a narration by Herman Schwartz.  The interviewer is Eli Perry. And the interviewee is?
SCHWARTZ: Herman Schwartz.  Before, my name was Chaim Schwartzwald.  I was born – my parents told me I was born in Germany in 1921, and at a very young age, my mother was Polish, she took me back to Poland to her parents’ house in Plonsk, 75 kilometers north of Warsaw.  I lived over there; I was raised.  My early life, I remember when I was four years old and my grandma wrapped me up in a tallis – this is a prayer shawl – and she took me to the cheder.  I was so bored through cheder, you know, because my grandfather taught me so many things in the house, and I starts off cheder already, I knew how to pray already in the siddur.  See, I was four years old or four and a half years old.  So I was so bored, you know, just sitting in the cheder, decide the next day I wasn’t going to go back.  So my grandfather had a difference idea. He took me up to the Hebrew school, Tarbuth.  He enrolled me in the Tarbuth.  This was a Hebrew school and I was going to Tarbuth for over a year and I was learning Hebrew, and he was teaching me in the house – he was teaching me the prayers, you know, the Hebrew, you know.  I could already read in Chumash, you know, in Russian, when I was five, six years old.
And, I remember, I remember later I was goin’ in Tarbuth in the Hebrew school and he took me and enrolled me in the public school to learn the Polish language too.  So, ’til around one o’clock I was goin’ to the Polish school, to the public school and in the afternoon I was goin’ to the Hebrew school.  Somehow, the Hebrew school, the Tarbuth, dissolved, indeed because they didn’t have enough children to pay, you know, the bills for the teachers, the school dissolved, and I was left over only with the public school, with the Polish school.  So, my grandfather took me in was a private school – a Hebrew school. His neighbors, Yitzhak Chalab was his neighbors – two brothers. One left for Israel around in 1925 or ’27, something like this and the younger brother, he was continuing with the school.  He was going to the Polish school, as a Jew, you used to fight all the time with the Polish students. During the week, he was going – one week he was going in the morning.
PERRY: To where?
SCHWARTZ: To the public school – the Polish school.  We were going, the Jewish kids was going in the afternoon, from one o’clock in school ’til seven.
PERRY: In the Hebrew school?
SCHWARTZ: In the Polish school.
PERRY: Oh, oh, in other words, you couldn’t enter freely there.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, you could enter freely but we were segregated.  The Jewish kids was goin’, oh, eight o’clock in the morning ’til one; later the gentile was comin’ from one to seven.
PERRY: I see.
They switched up like this – two weeks or three weeks or a month – you know, they alternate now who will come in the morning and who is going to start in the afternoon.
PERRY: Was that a common thing in Poland that they would divide the Jews?
SCHWARTZ: It was a common thing in Poland.  That’s right, that’s right, it was a common thing.  And I remember very well we used to have fights, you know.  When we used to come in and we used to go out, you know, we used to fight all the time.  It was bloody fights, I remember. But, ’til in 1933 I became Bar Mitzvah.  I remember this.  I used to go to the Hebrew school then, to Yitzhak Chalab.  He prepared me for the Bar Mitzvah.  Three pages Gemara I used to learn, you know, in the head.  In the date of the – the Saturday I remember, after the shul, the ceremony in the shul, and the Maftor what I had to say, we came home, my grandfather and we make a big table with all kind of food.  And later came in there was couple rabbis over there, teachers, and they was bombarding me with questions, you know definitions from the Gemara, or definitions from this and definitions from that.  Finally after this, they all eat and drink. The rabbi put his hand on my head and he blessed me, and that was the whole ceremony.
In Poland, in those days, there was…every child who became after Bar Mitzvah, you had to belong to some organization.  So, there was there the left Zionist, the right Zionist was there.  There was there another, another Shomer Hatzair – it used to be Betar.  This was the right wing, you know, Zionist movement.  So we belonged – I joined, I joined that. Over there we learned Jewish history.
In looking around in Poland I saw the helplessness in mine Jewish people.  A Pollock could go over there and slap him in the face and he turned around another cheek – give me on this one too.  And this, as a kid, you know, from 14 years old I couldn’t take it. So I joined the Betar, a right wing Zionist movement which they prepared me, you know, for going to Israel and fighting for Israel.  I remember very well when I was 14 years old, the touching, night marches we had. We didn’t have no rifles, but we practiced with a cane or with a broomstick.
In the same year I had a little accident with the janitor’s kid.  One morning, for no reason, I was playing with him in the backyard.  He, with a knife, he hit me right over there in my left arm.
PERRY: Was this janitor of the house where you lived?
SCHWARTZ: Yes.  In Betar they taught me a little boxing; they taught me everything.  It developed your mind; it developed your body.
PERRY: How often did the Betar group meet?
SCHWARTZ: Every night I was going over there for an hour or two, see, but during the weekend – Saturday and Sunday, we was playing soccer ball and we were marching.  In the back was a big field over there, I remember, where the room was from Betar.  Right there away, Ben Gurion’s house was right over there close to it, see where Ben Gurion was born.  Ben Gurion came out of the same city.
PERRY: Yes, but he was long since…
SCHWARTZ: He was long gone, you know – his, even his parents moved to Israel too.  I remember one brother here, he was selling papers on the corner in our city – the Jewish papers.  He sold his kiosk and he moved to Israel too. His name was Michael, see Michele.
PERRY: Michele.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  I remember this.  His father I remember, his sisters I remember, see.  My mother told me that she was holding me on her hand when Ben Gurion was coming back to Israel and holding what you call a referat, you know.
PERRY: A referendum.
SCHWARTZ: A referendum, you know, behind the big synagogue, in the synagogue.  She was holding me as a child, you know, on her hand and she went to listen to Ben Gurion.
PERRY: Oh, his presentation?
SCHWARTZ: His presentation, yes.  So, mine janitor’s boy from the house where we was living, he knifed me with a knife right in my left arm, see, but I turned around and I had already a little experience in boxing, and I let him have it back, really good.  I close up his eyes and his head was swollen like a balloon and he was laying there and I left him, I run home, see.
PERRY: What were you, about 12, 13, 14?
SCHWARTZ: 14 years old.  This was right after Bar Mitzvah, see.  And I remember my mother called the police and the police came over and he didn’t do nothing.  He told my mother, “Don’t be afraid, this little Jew of yours, he’s not gonna die – and just go ahead and take him to the felsher,” you know, what you call like a medic – a medic.
PERRY: A felsher, yes.
SCHWARTZ: Like a felsher, take him over there, down there, you going bandaging him.  I still got the little mark here on my arm, so many years. Then, I was crying more.  I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t put my tallis, my tefillin.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: I couldn’t put my left arm, I couldn’t put on.  So, my mother took me to the rabbi, over there to the menahal.  You know this is a rabbi, a menahal, a second hand from the rabbi.
PERRY: I’m not familiar with the menahal.
SCHWARTZ: He was like the second, like the second –
PERRY: Assistant?
SCHWARTZ: Assistant from the rabbi.  We used to call him menahal, we used to call him, I remember menahal came from –
PERRY: How would you spell that?
SCHWARTZ: I don’t know.
PERRY: Approximately, in English, approximately.
SCHWARTZ: Menahal – M N
SCHWARTZ: M – in Hebrew it’s going to be M N.
PERRY: Ayin, vav…
SCHWARTZ: Ayin, and an N, menahal, no, L.
PERRY: Menahal – let me stop for a second. (TAPE STOPS)
SCHWARTZ: So, and he says, don’t worry, that’s an act, you know.  Nobody can control it. Don’t worry, don’t lay the tefillin for a week or so, you know, and after it is healed up a little bit, you can put it on.  This was the year already 1935 for l’approche (?). You know, I was still going to Betar.  I was going to the Hebrew school and my grandfather was not still satisfied.  He enrolled me in the yeshiva.  Eight o’clock in the evening I had to run to Bes Hamidrash in two hours.  I still had to learn over there, you know, with the Yeshiva Bachurs.  So, I came home 10 o’clock and then was time to go to bed, you see.  Mine grandfather, he was – in the profession he was, he was dying clothes, you know, wool for the farmers.  So, our house was all the time full of butter and bread and chicken, meat. The farmers would bring –
PERRY: That’s what they paid for it.
SCHWARTZ: That’s what they paid for it.  Some of them brought money and some of them paid this way – they didn’t have any.  So, he, he was not poor. I would say he was, compared to Poland Jews who called themselves the middle class, and besides this, he had two sons, in Warsaw, and we had dry cleaning business – four stores.  We was well off.
PERRY: Yeah, he was pretty well off.
SCHWARTZ: They was coming all the time and they was bringing to papa and mama, they was bringing, you know, money from all the sites, see.  The children in those days was difference from nowadays. So, my uncle says to me, after he finished school, he graduates – send him into Warsaw and he will go to the professional school.
PERRY: Let me interrupt a second.
PERRY: You told me that your father had left for France.
SCHWARTZ: Oh yeah.  This comes right there around 1932.
PERRY: ’32.  So you’re…
SCHWARTZ: No, actually after the Bar Mitzvah, ’34.
PERRY: ’34.  So, really, after that it was your grandfather you saw most of.
SCHWARTZ: That’s right, that’s right.
PERRY: And before then you saw…
SCHWARTZ: No, in ’34 my father and my mother they decided Poland was a backwards country.  It was so backwards. So, they want to go, they want to move to France. So my father – this is running, this is running, don’t you?
PERRY: Yes, sure.
SCHWARTZ: So, my father decided he will take off to Paris.  My grandfather give him the money. And he went to Paris and he thought in a year he will establish himself, in a year or two.
PERRY: What type of work did he do?
SCHWARTZ: My father, he was a merchant.
PERRY: So he was going to open up a store or something?
SCHWARTZ: Stores, uh, you know.  He, with his brother, had a store in Warsaw.  They was having curtains, linen, what you call a dry goods store.  And they had what have you – everything – robes for this and this. So he says he will go into Paris in a year or two and see, with a little money, maybe he can…
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: So, it look like in Europe, in those days was the unemployment was very high everyplace.  It was bad in Germany, it was bad in Poland, it was bad here – here it was bad too.
PERRY: Sure, I remember that very well.
SCHWARTZ: It was the Depression, so it look like the Depression was all over the world.  He got into Paris. He couldn’t do nothing, only to establish himself. He was doing a little bit commerce, you handling a little bit, you know.  Open up a store, he was not a citizen; they wouldn’t let him do this. He thought why – because maybe he was Jewish or something, you know. So he had to take, he had to take what comes around.  He was doin’ a little bit. He was doin’ commerce with second hand stuff, you know – but he couldn’t open no store up. They wouldn’t give him the license – they call it registre de commerce, or something, yeah something like this, you know, call it in French.
So, in the meantime, me and my sister and my mama was in Poland living with my grandparents together.  And, all of a sudden he says, “Let’s take on the girl,” my sister, see.
PERRY: What’s her name?
SCHWARTZ: My sister’s name is Sessel.
PERRY: Sessel, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: Sessel Schwartzwald was her name, yeah.  So, in 1936 she left for Paris. She got over there into Paris and she was working with him together.  She couldn’t get no job either, you know. She wasn’t a citizen. She couldn’t work. She came, she came as a capitalist to, to France.  She could do no work – no, you see. But he was glad to have somebody from the family.
PERRY: With him, sure.
SCHWARTZ: So, she went down in 1936 and she was – it was so hard over there.  She almost turned around and come back, to learn a language.  Comin’ out from Poland and learnin’ a French language. She knew a little German, but from German to French is (LAUGHTER) is two different kinda…
PERRY: Day and night.
SCHWARTZ: Day and night.  So this was already 1936.  I got into Warsaw.  My mother was left over with my grandparents, you know.  Well, mine – this was 193 – almost ’36 was gone and ’37. So in springtime, ’37, they took me up to the school on Stopfsky Street.  I remember this. Stopfsky 13, I believe was it.  It was a big four-story building, you see, with classes, everything over there, you know.  And mine uncle, one uncle was an educated man. He was a bookkeeper, you see. He took me in to the principal over there.  I remember the principal, a little bitty fella. And he introduced me. He shook my hand and asked me some questions. I was sittin’ down and finally he asked me, “What you wanna be?”  I says, “I want to be a chemical engineer, that’s what I want to be,” see. He says, “Well, we can teach you over here. You can have a degree in four years or five years.” You know, that’s what he told me.  “We’ll put you in a place where you’re going to get your experience.” I believe the same methods what they have nowadays.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: So, I got home.  He told my uncle what’s gonna cost him.  And I talked to my uncle. I says, “Look, this school starts off eight in the morning and goes ’til around two o’clock.” “Yeah, two o’clock,” he said.  “And what you’re doin’ after two o’clock,” he says, “that’s your business. But in school gotta look, gotta uniform you got. You will have to wear a uniform when you’re goin’ to school.  When you comin’ home you can take it off.” It looks like I would dress up like a soldier.
So, came around ’bout April, May and I went up to school and we started getting the exams already, see, for next fall already, see.  Three months was vacation time. Vacation was goin’ be over the first of September, and then school starts up. So, they started givin’ tests.  I passed the Polish tests. I passed, you know, with flying colors. Later came in a little – little – small little professor, narrow little man.  I was bigger than him, I believe. And he says to me, “How’s your math?” I says, “I passed in school a test, you know.” He says, “Well, we don’t have no trouble, just come on, I want to test you on something,” you know.  He took me in over there in the room and I saw another kid sittin’ outside on the benches, waitin’ too to getting in. He took me in right away. So, he says, “I want from you, I want to show you a little thing and I want to see if you – you know how to count to 15.”  I says, “Everybody knows – in the second grade I use to know how to count.” “No,” he says, “see we got something over here a little different, see.” And he gives me a sheet of paper, I remember, and I took this and he makes like a tic-tac-toe, and he says to me, “From one to nine, see.  I want 15 across over here, 15 across over here, 15 across over here.”
PERRY: Every direction.
SCHWARTZ: 15 across over here, 15 – only ’til nine you allowed.  “You say you know how to count to 15,” he says. “How long this goin’ take you,” he says to me.  I says, “Two minutes, three minutes, you know.”
SCHWARTZ: I sit down and I start the doggone thing and I couldn’t do it.  I cursed. It took me, how long ti took me to doin’ this? Almost 15, 17 minutes.  So, he says to me, “You know, I’m glad you failed.” I says, “What do you mean – you’re glad I failed?”  “If you would know just how to do them, you wouldn’t pass it.”
PERRY: If you knew how to do it, you wouldn’t pass the test, his test?
SCHWARTZ: “I learn from this test I know how fast you can do everything.  I know already, I know you already from inside out,” he said, in the couple of minutes with…
PERRY: He could tell how long it took you to do that.  What was his name, do you remember?
SCHWARTZ: Oh, it was Rosenfeld.
PERRY: He was a Jewish man?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, with a wife.  He and his wife was teachin’…
PERRY: And this was in a Polish school?
SCHWARTZ: This was a private, private professional school.
PERRY: It was private?
SCHWARTZ: Private, yeah, yeah.
PERRY: It wasn’t the government.
SCHWARTZ: No, no, you had to pay for it, you see.
PERRY: I see.  But everybody could go there – Polish…
SCHWARTZ: Polish, Jewish – most of them was Jewish kids, you know, mostly of them was Jewish kids.  So I took – I got up and he says to me, “You see how this is done?” I says, “Yah, now I know it.”  “You think you can do it again if I give you one minute?” I says, “Oh yah, I can do this one minute.”  So he hand me the paper, a piece of paper (CHUCKLES) and he says to me, he says, “Okay, give me, give me those three words, those middle things.”
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: And I says, “Three, four, five.”  That’s the ______. If you got those three words, then you can do the rest of them very easy.
PERRY: So that was the test.
SCHWARTZ: That was the test.  So I was accepted, in September I start up.  Looking around in the school, lookin’ around and watch what was goin’ on, you know, in Poland in those days.  The anti-Semitism was so big, you know. The Pollacks was goin’ around and hollerin’ “Don’t buy by the Jews.”  The Jew and this and this was already pretty hot in Poland too, see.
In our schools, you know, like in every university, they form, start to form in groups.  Left groups, right groups, and this…
PERRY: Political groups.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, political groups.  I did belong to, to the right wing.
PERRY: You belonged to Betar.
SCHWARTZ: And I looked, I looked around, you know me.  I found some comrades who belonged in their hometowns.  You know, they was comin’ from all around Warsaw to join this school.  Oh, how many of them – it was almost over a half was there. But they belong to the right wing.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: In 1936 when I came home one time, before I left for Warsaw, Menachem Begin came to our town, see.  He was a young man then. He took over the organization after a Mr. Halper went to the United States to organize, organizing the right wing Betar, see.
PERRY: So he took over…?
SCHWARTZ: Begin took over the Betar from him.
PERRY: So, Begin took over the Betar in the…
SCHWARTZ: Begin took over the Betar from him.
PERRY: In Warsaw.
SCHWARTZ: In Warsaw.  He was still a student, he was practicing – no, he was still a student in the law school.  He introduced me to him, and I used to know him. He used to talk to us, young kids, you know, and he’d tell us the same thing that he told everybody –  Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the leader in this…
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: He told, he told the people of Poland, “There’s dark clouds comin’ over here kids – save yourself all you can – run – get up from this dump, from this hot place.”  Well, Polish Jewry didn’t believe him. They all thought, “No, the man is sick, what he’s talkin’ about.” How can you leave 1100 years, you know –
PERRY: You were living here the whole time…
SCHWARTZ: All this time, leaving everything and my mother too, and mine uncles, they was all belong to the Bund.  We says we got to stay over here and fight for existence over here.
PERRY: How long had your mother’s family live in Plonsk?  Do you have any idea?
SCHWARTZ: I wish I would know, but mine grandfather told me is we go back hundreds of years.
PERRY: Yeah, okay, that’s – a very long time.
SCHWARTZ: That is a long time because, you know why?  In our household, my grandfather had a little gold set.  12 little spoons and 12 little forks and 12 little knives with, with ebony handles.
PERRY: Ebony handles.
SCHWARTZ: And I asked him one time, I says, “How long is this thing is,” and he told me one time, “My child, it go back to the 15th century,” he said.
PERRY: A very long time.
SCHWARTZ: A VERY long time.  I believe this set came out from Germany.  See, somebody brought it over – came over from Germany and brought this to him, you know.  He says, “way back,” because on this box I remember was a dark blue, plush box, like very heavy…
PERRY: Plush, plush.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, plushine I could call it.  On the bottom was written in German, see.  I remember this. And I used to ask him, I’d say, “What is this on the back?”  He says, “Oh that’s the name from the company what make this.” That’s the reason I know this from a long, long time go back, see.
PERRY: While we’re on this subject, had your father’s family lived a long time around Frankfurt too?  Do you know that?
SCHWARTZ: That I could never find out but I’m afraid it’s a long time too, see.  It was a long time because my father once mentioned to me that I had an uncle.  He says he was teachin’ in Berlin University. When, I don’t know. Could have been maybe the turn of the century or maybe before the turn of the century.  See, this I don’t know.
PERRY: A long time, though.
SCHWARTZ: But I did one time when I was in Germany, I went in over there to the bureau where they’re makin’ up those birth certificates.  I says, “How many Schwartzwalds you got over here, used to be in, in Offenbach?”  They came out with a list.  He said, “Boy, I could give you a hundred of them,” he said.  “I can give you a hundred of them Schwartzwalds was in Offenbach.  Some of them was in the leather goods – you know, pocket books – factories.  Some of them was shoemakers. Some of them was makin’ ladies shoes, mens shoes.”  You know, he said so many Schwartzwalds was over here, he didn’t know himself, see.  So I was goin’ to school, and the people around me, you know, I saw what is happen.
PERRY: And, of course, Begin was pointing this out?
SCHWARTZ: Oh, yeah, Begin got us on his side.  We only knew one side, we got to go to Israel and fight for our homeland because to never in the history of the nations that somebody, somebody be handin’ you over a country on a golden platter and say, “Here, here, you got it – you got to fight for us.  You got to spill your blood for us, to get it, you see.” But, our brothers, the left Zionists, they didn’t believe in it. They still believed in what Chaim Weitzmann was believing, crying from the British to be given on a golden platter the Israel… and Ben Gurion, with the whole bunch of them, see.
So, finally I was goin’ in the school, in this professional school from eight in the morning ’til two in the afternoon.  In the afternoon I was comin’ home, helpin’ out mine uncle in the drycleaning business. I was doin’ a little pressing and I was doing this, and this, to making out the money what cost me.  And I was still askin’ my mother – my mother has a grocery store – she opened up a grocery store in Plonsk. And she was runnin’ this by herself to help the grandparents. And I was sending home some stuff that I was buying for her.  One night my uncle saw me. He says, “Look you make this week, you make 20, 20 zlotys,” just like over here in the United States, was, was 20 dollars, you know. For a few hours work. I was workin’ only from around three o’clock to seven sometimes six, seven…Then I have to go to meetings or something like that.
And, well it was goin’ on like this ’til 1939 ’til clouds got so dark over Europe.  The Germans was takin’ already Austria; they was takin’ already Czechoslovakia. And you was cryin’ for the people, mine uncle finally I got him to be Zionist, a right-wing Zionist.  Mine other uncle, and even the little professor turned Zionist. You know, he saw what was happen already, you see. And it was pretty strong; this movement was pretty strong in 1939.
Then, all of a sudden, first of September, we tryin’ to getting ready for school for the third year, you know.  Friday morning Hitler bombed us over Warsaw.
PERRY: Did anybody expect that?
SCHWARTZ: Oh, yeah.  Soon he signed – Molotov signed a treaty with Russia.  The Pollacks, they were, they thought they better want the German occupation like the Russians, see, they was hatin’ the Russians because Russia occupied Poland for 128 years, and they had two times the raids against the Russians during the occupation.  The ______ want the Germans lot better like the Russians, see. So, that’s what got happen. In one week three –

Tape 1 - Side 2 (Perry)

PERRY: First of all, I think it would be of interest to know how big Plonsk was and about what the Jewish population was.
SCHWARTZ: The city of Plonsk was, I would say, around about10-12,000 people.  The majority was Jews. I would say 35 to 65 in favor of the Jews.
PERRY: And it had, I guess, a well-organized population.
SCHWARTZ: Oh yeah, we had a couple, one big synagogue.  And we had bes ha-medrash – about three, four, five of them.  And we had vaad ha-ir.  We had a rabbi, a menahel.  We had a chazan, we had a yeshiva, we had.
PERRY: You had everything?
SCHWARTZ: We had everything, yeah.
PERRY: One other question before you pick up the war years.  Your father grew up speaking German. It must have been quite a change for him moving to Plonsk.
SCHWARTZ: Well, my father was a linguist.  He knew many languages and that saved his life, too, in a way, because during the war he joined up with the maquis after the Germans defeated France and he was transmittin’ near Grenoble.  In the mountain he was transmittin’ in Russian, in Polish, in German.
PERRY: So, he had no problems.
SCHWARTZ: No problems.
PERRY: So how about your home; what did you speak in the house?
SCHWARTZ: In the house we speak Jewish, Yiddish, Polish, and sometime a little German too.
PERRY: Because, you know German too.
SCHWARTZ: I was learning German later in, in the professional school.
PERRY: Oh, I was wondering.  That’s why I asked the question.
SCHWARTZ: I was learnin’ in the professional school.  They had two languages, French and German, they had.
PERRY: Foreign languages.  So, you learned French too?
SCHWARTZ: A little bit, yeah.  But mostly I learned in Auschwitz the French, from the French Jews, I picked it up.  It came back to me, you know.
PERRY: Okay, well let’s pick up then the time the war broke out.
SCHWARTZ: I was in Warsaw.  I went through the whole bombardment in Warsaw and, you know, the whole calamity.  And I saw so many people.  I never saw so many dead people in my life.  That’s when I got the first dose what this means dead, what is means the injuries and what is means crippled in this and that.  So, after three weeks the war was over.  I was in Warsaw.  I took off, and I went back to Plonsk.  I marched home, you see.
PERRY: About 50 miles?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I marched and it took me two days but I made it.  A little bit on foot, a little bit – I got rides from farmers and wagons.  And, on the way I saw many other calamity, what we Jews goin’ have with the Germans.  Was there a German kitchen, was handin’ out food, soup. And we stand in line and all of a sudden they say, “Jews out – nothing for Jews” – the first dose.
PERRY: First what?
SCHWARTZ: The first dose of prejudice.  I, I, I counted right over there, halfway home, you see.
PERRY: Yeah, but you were used to it…
SCHWARTZ: Well, I was used to it a little bit.  You know, the Pollack was not so harsh, not to give you a piece of bread or a little soup.  So, I was – then I didn’t drink a thing. I got to this doggone thing and they didn’t have no what you call it – no bowls to puttin in the little soup, an army kitchen.  So he says, “Take off your mutze, take off your hat,” and he jumped in, and I was staying with my hands and pushing into the mouth, out from the mutze, the hat.  When you’re hungry, you’ll do anything.  Everything goes. So, finally, I got back and my mama was glad to see me and she told me, look, if you’re goin’ outside, down the street, don’t hold your hands in the pockets.
PERRY: Do not hold your hands in the pockets.
SCHWARTZ: Do not hold your hands in the pockets.  When Germans, they’re going to see somebody holding it in the pockets, they shootin’ him right away.  They thinkin’ you got hidden a pistol, or something. Keep your hands out of the pockets.” See, that’s the first thing she told me.  I didn’t move out from the house for a couple days.  ’Til I saw, I looked around, I saw how the Germans lookin’ and how this and how this, you know.
So, my mother had the grocery store, and all of a sudden, they came out, they – they must be 50 groceries, I believe – Jewish groceries in the city.  All of them has to close and we go mergin’ and open up three stores like cooperatives.
PERRY: They closed and they merged together?
SCHWARTZ: They merged together.  And this one store is goin’ be nine people and this one is goin’ be nine-10 people, and this one is goin’ – for this you got to make a living, see.
So, my mother told me, “You know what, you take and start off, you know, going – go see you help them out.  Maybe you can do it.” What they did, they was writin’ letters to Germany, postal cards and asking from the German wholesalers, merchandise.  Where else could you get these things. So, this thing was goin’ on. We were sendin’ out the merchandise came by way of car and we paid. In the meantime, they opened up the ghetto.  Every Jew had to go into this little territory.
PERRY: The Germans decreed that everyone had to live in this space?
SCHWARTZ: This space, you know.  And from the little towns they took all the Jews out from the little towns and they brought ’em in, in this ghetto.  Typhus broke out. People was dying left and right.  Four families in two, in one room or two. It was goin’ on a pity, looking around.
Well, this was 1940-41.  Came in one from the Gestapo in the store – no, he came to the Judenrat, the Judenrat, it was called.  And the Jewish police came in and they took all of them, from the store, the nine people, the cooperative, the owners…
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: The Jewish police in other stores, about 24 of them altogether.  A few of them, you know, died already. They took their wives, and let them alone.  And I heard that they took my mother.
PERRY: They took your mother.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, ’cause she was the rightful owner, see.  And I got over there to the Jewish police; the Gestapo was not still there.  And I said to the Jewish police, I says, “Where you goin’ take my mother?” I says, “Take me man.”  I says, “I’m de man,” I says, “You don’t want to have a sick woman. What you goin’ do with her? She wouldn’t last; she wouldn’t last a half an hour.”  So, finally, he says to me, “Okay, if you want it, go ahead; sit down over there. Let your mom go home.” I kissed my mom and I says, “You go home. Don’t worry about a thing,” I says. (PAUSE)
Then I wait half an hour later.  Two Gestapo men comin’ in. Everybody rise, get lined up three in a row and keep marchin’, you know we goin’ now the Gestapo is here.  They marched us down in the basement, locked the door behind us.  The room couldn’t hold but 10, and they packed in 24. We laid like this the whole night.  The next morning they comin’ down, they readin’ out the names, for interrogation.  Goin’ Ausforschung.
PERRY: You didn’t know what that was at that time, did you?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I know what this was but I didn’t thought it was goin’ to be that bad, you know, people can do this like this.  So, finally mine turn came and I saw what they did to the other ones.  They throw them down the steps like a piece of rags after they beat the hell out from them, real bad, bloody.
PERRY: You were still in Plonsk, though.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, still in Plonsk.  Actually, there was no way to go no place no more.  It’s a ghetto already. We wore the yellow, the yellow patch, you know already.  And my turn came and I saw my verdict already. One room, a little desk over there and the two bandits sittin’ behind the desk.  In the front of the desk there is a box you puttin in your foots like this, this one like this and this one like this – you know, in a narrow little box.  People can…such kind of torture. I never did comprehend this, that people can _____ and it’s a torture. Can you stay like this…
PERRY: No, it’s very difficult.
SCHWARTZ: Now, from the ceiling came down two ropes and yanked up your hands up and those two bandits started askin’ questions and then when you answer it they start to bangin’ away on your stomach, see.
PERRY: What type of questions did they ask you?  Just anything?
SCHWARTZ: They asked me a question how old I am and what is your profession.  I told them I got two years college. “Ohhh, ohhh, that’s the man that we want, he’s tryin’ to make the bomben.”
PERRY: Bombs?
SCHWARTZ: Bombs.  So they started bangin’ away on me ’til I goin’ to collapse.  They let you loose and they throw you down, down the steps, about 15 steps down to the basement.  And they let you lay in there. And down there was one, another German, a policeman, a little bitty fellow.  He put a bucket of filth on you, wash you down with a bucket of filth, of something. You woke up; you crawled into this hole, over there to this room again.  I don’t have a piece of bread or nothin’ for two days. They didn’t give you nothing, a little water.
PERRY: This was the Gestapo headquarters?
SCHWARTZ: The Gestapo headquarters.  And, two days later, again up.  “Are you goin’ tell the true?” I says, “I told you the true, I told you everything, my whole life story.”  “Where is your father?” I says, “My father immigrate to France before the war, in 1934,” I says. “No, he went to fight during the war; he must be a high ranking officer.  He escaped from Poland and ran over there to Hungary to fightin’ us again.” I says, “No,” I says. Well, you could talk to the wall but he was bangin’ away on me, you see. I collapse again.  They throw you down, down the basement again.
It took about a week and this thing was goin’ on like this, everyone of them around the clock, day and night, day and night was goin’ on like this.  You know, they was bangin’ away on you.
Well, finally, the next – after, it was five days, I believe, and they came down and called the names again.  Up and he says to me, “Now you got to sign those papers.” So, I didn’t look even, I says, “I’ll sign them anyway.”  But everybody had to doin’ this, there is nothing you can help it, see. One asked what I’m signin’, he got his beating of his life, see.  He almost didn’t make it. So, then they throw them down again and when I came up I knew already what has happened. Oh, I signed the papers, all right.  I don’t know what I signed, but I did sign, see.
And, they kept us another two days and they loaded us up on a truck.  Near, about 30 kilometers away, was a working camp.  Grajevo was the name of it.  This was the…
PERRY: What was the name of it again?
SCHWARTZ: Grajevo.  30 kilometers away from Plonsk was a labor camp, see. They took us in and they cut your hair off and this and put your number – my number was 874.  There was older people over there. The next morning they put us in a room over there – straw all away round and straw, this was the whole…
PERRY: Did they mix Poles and Jews?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  Everybody – oh, was there about 250, you know.
PERRY: Some Poles, some Jews?
SCHWARTZ: Everything, mostly Poles was there, see.  They caught ’em on crossing the border, to the German Reich, to the Polish…
PERRY: Okay, so these were?
SCHWARTZ: Smugglers, smugglers, they call it.  What you call it when you carry contraband.
PERRY: Contraband.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, tobacco, cigarettes, and all kinds of stuff.  Some of them had even, was caught with…
PERRY: They didn’t generally round up the Polish population like they did the Jews?
SCHWARTZ: Well, later they did, in the big cities they had the roundups, later, I will get to this…
PERRY: Of the Poles?
SCHWARTZ: Of the Poles, yeah.  So, they got us into this camp and the next morning they marched us out to work.  What was to work – to buildin’ a highway. In Poland they didn’t build highways like they build over here, see.  Over here you have shovels, you preparin’ the ground, sand and rocks…
PERRY: Gravel.
SCHWARTZ: No, rocks you settin’ up, and later it runs over a roller that presses it down and later you puttin’ schut on it and that is the highway.  You fill in with sand and that’s it.  This was in November, and cold, and the skin was comin’ off from our hands.
They let two older people die.  But that was not the worstest part of it.  Later, in the straw, the lice was eatin’ us up.  They eat up my underwear, the lice, shirts and everything.  You never saw which kind of big lice what was there, are infested.
And I – so what is happen, somebody from the city was comin’ out to visitin’ us.  From the wives, from another guys, and he was tellin’ us, he says, “Get those older people out.  When they here they will die.” This camp was guarded by the Volksdeutschen, you know, the Polish Germans.
PERRY: Yeah, the ones who had immigrated to Poland.
SCHWARTZ: And that was the son-of-a-guns, the ones that was killed wholesale.  You give them today, you hand them today 50 marks and tomorrow he was trying to kill you again, see.  That’s the kinda people we had to deal with.
Well – many of them – this is what really they had, but a couple weeks, and all of a sudden the typhus broke out.
PERRY: Under those conditions, of course.
SCHWARTZ: So, the typhus broke out and they closed the camp.  They don’t let us go out anymore to work. And they came in from the city and disinfect everything.  There was a big boiler, with the steam. They took our clothes outside and we stay naked, and they was shaving you and washing you down and steamin’ the clothes to kill the lice.  And inside the lice in the straw they let lay. So, after they got through, they put us in another room on fresh straw and all of a sudden, I see one guy is dyin’ – two guys was dyin’, a couple Polish guys was dyin’.  It one day it was 15 dead.
PERRY: In that little camp.
SCHWARTZ: In this little camp, from typhus.  So they saw what is happened, they start rushin’ us into the hospital.  They load us up on horse and buggies and they took us into the hospital.
PERRY: To Warsaw?
SCHWARTZ: No, to the city, to Plonsk.  We got in on a day to Plonsk, you know, and he said, “Jews, goin’ in the ghetto hospital and the other ones will stay over here in this hospital,” see.  So they put us back, they took our temperature. I was feel my head was burnin’ up.
PERRY: Sure, typhus is terrible.
SCHWARTZ: We got in the hospital and the room, I remember this, they give us a bath and there was a Jewish fellow.  His name – I used to know him, I used to play soccer ball with his two brothers, you see. He says, he says, “Don’t worry when you get your hot bath.  They goin’ to wrap you right up in a blanket and put you right in your bed, you know.” And somebody already let know my mother and she had already a basket with something to eat.  She forgot that when you got typhus and you got fever, you don’t eat nothing. You only drink.
PERRY: All the water you can get.
SCHWARTZ: That’s right.  So, she had a bottle, I remember a big bottle of tea sweetened with sugar and I started to let this down and he starts pumping me.  “Drink, drink,” he says, “drink.” (COUGHING) Pardon me. And I started drinkin’ and I fell asleep and I didn’t know what’s gots happen to me.  Four days later I woke up. Four days later I woke up.
PERRY: The fever had broken?
SCHWARTZ: Yah, the fever, yah, the fever – I woke up holdin’ mine eyes and I look around and I see next bed to me is laid in the mattress was upside down, see.  And I was thinkin’, I says, “Wait a minute,” I says, “What is happened over here.” Finally they told me that Ozer Kupitz, mine wife’s father, he died.
PERRY: You didn’t know he was your wife’s father?
SCHWARTZ: No, in those days I was single…
PERRY: He was just a man.
SCHWARTZ: Yah, a man, Ozer Kupitz.  He right there by me in the next bed.  Mine father-in-law, may he rest in peace – he died, see.  And I woke up and I looked and something hit me. I said, “What is this here?”  He’s telling the news that she’s alive, she is in New York and she told me that so-and-so passed away, see.  It kind of shook me up a little bit.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: Well, my mother, I says, “Let my mother to know that I slipped out of this; that I’m all right.  ________, I told her, I says, _________, I got something to eat. There was not hospital food and I start to eat and I’m so weak.
Well, we were laid in this hospital for almost two months – three months.  This was the winter all the way into spring. This was ’41, you know, and it turned into ’42 already.  Was later they took us out – we had a back room over there in the hospital – and they put all of 24 men, 23 men – one woman – she went home – they let her go home.  They put all the 23 men they kept in the hospital in a back room over there, see. ’Til we got really good on our feet. So, and I took after around in March, April, they make for us a special jail in the ghetto and they took us all out from the hospital and they put us in this, in this jail.  It used to be a little Hebrew school, Chinuch L’Yeladim, they used to call it.  And from this little school – a one room school – they make a jail, see, they put us in.  And they had Jewish police was guardin’ us day and night, see. As a matter of fact, the two policemen survived.  One is in Israel and one is in South America, see – they survived. They was guardin’ us – day and night we was.
Well, finally one morning, one morning in April – it was May or April the 10th – I believe May the 10th was it.  The police from the city came in.  Everybody eintreten, everybody raus, marched ourself over there to the bathhouse in the ghetto.  Cut our hair, give us a bath marched us off, out from the ghetto to the German police on the corner in the Markstrasse.  We stayed over there for an hour, came out more policemen to put us on handcuffs, and they took us right there – we marched around all the way the main street, all the way down to the railroad station.  They put us in right away. On our way, I didn’t know where we goin’, especially, a railroad car, a jail car. Four people in a little cubicle, you know what you call it a cubicle – four people pushed in.  The train was there loaded with people. Everyone was cryin’ and hollering and nothing. And they took us in, all the way up north to the Prussian border, Soldau.
PERRY: Soldau?
SCHWARTZ: Soldau.  The Polish, they call it Djaldovo.  It used to be over there a military barracks.  They have over there a straflager.  So, we got in over there and some of them they put in in jail.  The jail was filled up and about 150 they put in in the barracks.  The barracks was worse than the jail was. You had to sleep; they give you a piece of bread, one slice a little bread.  I take in a little soup and you had to slide on your belly to get it.
PERRY: Just to torture you.
SCHWARTZ: This was at the straflager.  Torture, torture camp was it.  One day we were – they was makin’ with us calisthenics, jumpin’, dancin’, kneebdgen and this and this and roll on your belly and roll this.  Pulls in a car and he says, “Halt,” to this SS man; he was doin’ this, all the torturing stuff.  And he says to the SS man, he says, “Marchen sie die, take down those prisoners over there,” see.  He comes down, I saw him holding a revolver(?) in his hand.  A revolver, I said, “Maybe they gonna shoot us, maybe not…”  Take down over there used to be like a waterwell, a concrete pipe, like it was filled up all the way to the top with dirt.  That’s what I saw. And he says to this SS man, you know, I could understand him in German, he says, “Machen sie die rohre auf.”  And he’s tellin’ him a little bit in German I couldn’t hear.  But like he would know; it came with a plan… So he’s takin’ the five of us.  I was right there in the first five. He says, “Come on.” Then he gives us five picks, shovels, and we start to knockin’ this doggone thing – diggin’ out.  It used to be like a well goin’ all the way down. And I start to diggin’, diggin’ and we got about three feet deep, took off the dirt and the bricks and everything around the closed cases of ammunition.  German helmets with German uniforms, was rustin’ already, with cases of ammunition. I says, “Oh,” I says, “that’s what this all about, you mean.” He says – he came – he look like a fine artist, he say, “1918,” the year the Germans pulled out from Poland, they got stripped of their everything, even with their helmets.  Everything was laying in this. We fooled around for six weeks to diggin’ out everything.
PERRY: Why did he want it?
SCHWARTZ: I don’t know why he want it, this doggone thing, he came down all of a sudden like a tiger, he rode in.  And he said to us, “Let’s dig it.” Later, this was not all – we took it out and some of it was corroded and he brought some sandpaper and with some kind of chemicals and clean everything.  I was wonderin’ myself what the heck he wanted this stuff. The cases of ammunition was green already. Everything was green, laying so many years, you know, under the dirt. And with the police helmets, with side arms – uniforms, boots, you name it, everything looked like they left in a hurry, threw everything down and they cover this up with dirt; they thought they were comin’ back, you see.  And, all of a sudden I see them son-of-a-guns getting drunk. They came out with pieces pipes, pieces lead pipe, and boy, they started bangin’ away on us – a massacre, you see. They killed about 25 of them right over there, and, and, right over there.
PERRY: This was the man who came from…?
SCHWARTZ: Yah, got drunk with another bunch SS men and boy, they give us, they gived us a day to remember.
Well, two days later, or a week later, after we got through cleaning this old stuff and one SS man says, “Ach, lass dass diese scheisse.”  You know, what comes to do with domination.  “No,” another one says ________. ____________, they was cleanin’ up and shippin’ this in, see.  A week later after doggone, we didn’t finish yet, came the order to loaden us up on the trains and keepin’ goin’.  So, I have to mention over here too, I forgot, that soon I got to Soldau, to this camp, they lead us out. Where we goin’?  Urteil.
PERRY: Urteil, yeah, the decision.
SCHWARTZ: Why we are here, and where we goin’.  “Why,” he says to me, “it’s for everybody.”  He read my name, “Chaim Schwartzwald, you on your way to ______ Auschwitz, konzentrationslager Auschwitz.”  You had to holler, “Ja wohl, Sturmbanfueher.”  I asked him why this and he says because you was a smuggler, see.  I says, “Me, why you,” I says, “I don’t know,” (LAUGHTER) you know I don’t want say nothing.  But I didn’t know why. (LAUGHTER) “Oh,” he says, “you are ein chemiker.”  “Oh, oh,” I says, “ich bin in den schule gegangen,” I says, “Ich bin nicht fertig.”  “No, this ______ of the Reichfuhrer, Himmler,” you know, “du bist ein ______.”  I says, what else can I do, and I says “Ja wohl,” that’s all.
Well, so a bit later, they put us in railroad cars, shipped us, further west.  From Soldau – Soldau is over here – we got into Torun.
PERRY: How do you spell?
SCHWARTZ: Torun, T O R U N, Torun Poland.  In German, it is Toln. Well, they got us in over there in a big jail.  I remember the main street was right there. The gates was open up – they were steel gates.  The building was so long – blocks. This building was filled up; this building was filled up already.  So, what they did, we went to the new warehouse they keep you tidy and nice.
PERRY: Tidy and what?
SCHWARTZ: Tidy and nice, you know.  Nice and tidy.
PERRY: Nice and tidy.
SCHWARTZ: Yes.  What they did, they dumped a couple truckloads of sand in the yard, in this big jail and everybody was had to laden on this pile of sand, sleepin’ over there, eatin’ over there too – even makin’ over there, see that’s was.  Kept us about four weeks over there. And without anything, they loaded us up again in railroad cars. We goin’ in to Poznan, Poland. And in Poznan, Poland picked us up with trucks. The trucks backed up right to the rail, to the car and right then into the trucks, see.  They didn’t trust us even to jumpin’ down from the car. We gotten in the Politzie prison in Poznan.  What was got happen, this Poznan in Poland a rule there used to be two people, they put in three fill.  Hardly could breathe. If you didn’t have the room on your bunk, you was supposed to bunk on a couple bunks around the room.  And here was the stove and right over here was the door. You had to lay on the floors. On the walls, people was so much written up.  So many people from this. I even met a bunch of guys what we were in Soldau with them. Later they shipped them out before us. Here was writin’ down on the walls: “So and so, my name is so and so and I’m on my way to Auschwitz.”  Some of them, “I’m on my way to Mauthausen; I’m on my way to Flossenburg.” All the walls was written up. This was not all of it. Those – those jails were so dirty – cockroaches…

Tape 2 - Side 1 (Perry)

SCHWARTZ: And this time I was there in this room, was no air comin’ in, only a little bitty window, I would say one foot by a foot and a half.  In the morning when they opened the door to let you out to the bathroom, you was, you was fallin’ down in the hallway, you was getting dizzy, the dizzy spells from lack of air, see.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: The food consisted of a piece of bread; I believe 12 to a loaf, 12 slices to a loaf.  Each one had a little slice and a little watery soup. And how the soup was given to you is worth it to mention.  The door opened up, a guard came in and he ask, “How many?” And you say, “32,” or 30. This was the door over here and you had to stay right over there, facin’ the door, like in a half a moon.
PERRY: A semicircle.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  He put in one…
PERRY: Ladle?
SCHWARTZ: Ladle, and hand over the man, the first one to his right.  This man had to take it out of there, a drink from the soup and hand over the bowl to another one; it goes around.  In another hand he put in another soup, another bowl – 32 bowls all the way around had to go, ’til the bowls was empty.  The bowls was empty when he was through, see. And if you didn’t had enough, if you didn’t took what you want, you was out of luck.  You didn’t eat no more, see. This was a device in the German culture – modern German culture, I would say. That’s what he used to call us in these rooms, see, the modern German culture.  You eat on the run, that’s what you call it, see.
So, after bein’, after there, in Poznan, the room was so dirty.  There were cockroaches was eatin’ us up. Your skin was just like a – your skin like a file, you know, ______.  The lice was eatin’ you up; they sucked your blood out.
After this, one morning, after five weeks or six weeks or somethin’ like that, I don’t remember exactly how long I was there, they took us – on each floor was a big cage with iron bars.  And they called out the name and you had to run, taking your belongings what you had over there – a coat or something. You runnin’ to the cage, ’til they got about a hundred people or a 150 people, took you downstairs, they give you a shower, put you back on trucks, took you down to a siding and they packed you in railroad cars.  This time they put you in, like in a passenger car, but the seats – you took out everything – there was nothing but bare walls and wooden benches was there. And, we know that we goin’ now all the way to Auschwitz.  Auschwitz – in Polish they call it Oswiecim.  So, this was about six in the morning we starts off and we went in this car, and everybody was sittin’.  We has one guard by this door, one guard by this door, already with a machine gun. They had a car with women too.  The door, this car had a toilet – the door was taken off, see. The guards could see you. The windows was with barbed wire – lace with barbed wire, and it was all kinda…
Well, finally, it got about eight o’clock in the night, was dark already in August, I know it was August.  I didn’t know when. Later, I found out it was the 19th, they land us in the paradise of Auschwitz.  Well, they starts to holler, “Everybody raus,” everybody has to get out and they had, like ah, like, you have to run through a row of SS mens and this side, everyone of them with the rifle butts was hittin’ you doggone where he can ’til they got everybody out.  Lined ’em up, was 150 of us, about 145, I believe, and they took us, “Forward march,” everybody has to march. We knew we goin’ to the camp. But, outside the station was waitin’ for us over there a surprise – SS men with the dogs.  Oh, they joined up, see. We got through. We got down the street. The streets was deserted. You didn’t see nobody on the street, no light, it was dark and the dogs was jumpin’ on you. They put them the dogs on long leash. They was walkin’ the sidewalk and the dog was jumpin’, the dog was – he musta been trained to rippen your clothes off only.  You see, he didn’t bother your flesh, only the clothes, they rippen off you. I had a shirt, I remember, a blue shirt and a pair of dark slacks and when I – you know, a half an hour later, was nothing there, (LAUGHTER) honestly but the boots. I was almost naked, see. When the dog got a hold of you and he couldn’t rip you loose the clothes, he dragged you on the sidewalk and right away a burst from the machine gun, rat-ta-ta-ta-ta.  That’s where you went. That’s all there was to it. If the dog drag you on the sidewalk, it mean you are tryin’ to escape, see. “Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta” this was all for you. I was there and I remember. About, I believe approximately what I saw was five, six of them was laiden out. The dogs was draggin’ them. You know, there to the camp, see. You had to have the number, see. You know the German Punktlichkeit.
PERRY: Yeah, it has to be exact.
SCHWARTZ: You know, exactly by the number.  Even a dead person has to be counted, see.  So, those dogs were draggin’ those dead bodies.  And I got, turning, turn around the pants after half an hour walking through a lane and I remember a street – grown with trees, a beautiful street.  It must have been a nice little town, Auschwitz, before the war, just like a lane. On both sides the street mit trees, and we were around comin’ around the bend and finally we see this doggone camp, boy.  Auschwitz is there already here. This is home sweet home, see.
PERRY: Had you heard about it before?
SCHWARTZ: I heard, in Djaldovo, in Soldau, and they leak this out.
PERRY: So, information has leaked back to you.
SCHWARTZ: That’s right.  The information in Soldau they told us that _______ in the Reichs marshall, or something, the Reichsfuhrer, Himmler, that’s I was already know to reporten to, to the KL, they used to call the konzentrationslager Auschwitz, year 1942, you know…
PERRY: But did you, as a Jewish person, know what the inside of a camp like that was like before?
SCHWARTZ: We heard something but we didn’t know it’s here.
PERRY: You couldn’t understand then.
SCHWARTZ: Well, let me tell you before the war when I was in the Betar and Hitler marched in to Austria again, they took the Jews too and put them in a little Mauthausen; it was just the beginning, the beginning Dachau, the beginning.  They say they took them into concentration camp. They was doin’ some kinda little work, you know in this, but mostly of them, they was asking for the money. Mostlythey was askin’ for money, somebody has the money they can go buy themselves out – they let him out, they shipped him out, you know, someplace.  That’s what we thought was a concentration camp.
But, when I arrived at Auschwitz, Auschwitz was no more a concentration, it was a death camp.  Before me was already about seven, eight, or 10 transports of Jews comin’ in from Holland, Belgium and Paris.  And in France came in already; they all got liquidated.
PERRY: You only found out about that afterwards.
SCHWARTZ: Afterwards, that’s right.  I didn’t know it, see.
So, we stand before the gate and I read on the top: Arbeit Macht Frei – freedom through work, and I looked in and I saw these beautiful buildings.  And the windows was open, was still light on in the buildings and I see they got white linen, there you sleep on white linen.  I says to my mine, mine, ________, I say, “Get a look over here, we arrived over here in a paradise,” (LAUGHTER) I said. He says, “Boy, we find out right away what kinda paradise is, (LAUGHTER) doggone thing is, you know.  I said, “Well,” I says, and all of a sudden – all of a sudden a car pulls in, a convertible, see. I see this, a convertible, see. Jumps out an officer, I didn’t know it, and he comin’ over and says, “Who’s over 55 years of age?  Step out.” Steps out about 15-20 of them stepped out, mostly Polish, a few Jews too was there, I believe. And, he tell them to marchin’ over there, to stand up over there on the side and a few minutes later they was talkin’ over there, with the guy in this little shack by the gate.  And all of a sudden he says, “Well everybody falls in, eintreten,” and they march us in – in the camp to the bathhouse.  This was nine o’clock in the night, already, see. I didn’t know that this was Mengele.  Later I find out.
PERRY: So, that was Mengele then?
SCHWARTZ: A little introduction.  “Over 55,” he says, “I refuse you to go in the camp,” he says.  He’s goin’ fix ’em right now. He’s a Nazi, that’s all.
So, they got us into the bathhouse and we was waitin’ right there.  I forgot the number from the building. And, next morning, next morning about seven o’clock, came in after the appel, the sorta appel what goes on in the camp.  The bell was ringing, and everybody was linin’ up.  They count ’em in the morning, they count ’em in the evenin’.  And, later the guys came in that was workin’ in this bathhouse, they all came in, the guys.  Say, “Okay, fellas, we going start off to processing you. Take off your clothes, put ’em all in, hang ’em up on a little doggone thing, put ’em in in a paper bag, and go over there to this table and we will give you a ticket and you will slap on this and you clothes right there.  You got to have – you got the clothes to stack yourself, see. Later, down the way, nobody’s somethin’ is missin’. Missin’ from your stuff.” They told me it’s a political prison. In other words, it’s a _______, it’s only the political prisoners that has this honor…
PERRY: The privilege of stealing their own…
SCHWARTZ: And he says, “And now we goin’ shavin’ you and this and this.”  And he says to me, “Everybody has to dip in in this bathtub over here.”  I looked in this bathtub, I didn’t know what the heck is there, in this bathtub.  So, I got in and he push me down over the head. That was raw lysol. My skin was so chapped up from these prisons’ whole thing.
PERRY: Caustic.
SCHWARTZ: And this lysol, boy, almost drove me crazy.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: I almost run in with my head to the wall, see.  It burns. And the other guys, the same way. Boy, you heard about it was bitin’ the fingers.  And some of them was lying down, raw lysol, something. Lucky, one little tap was drippin’. The shower, the showerhead was ______, hangin’ down and pipes and this one was drippin’ a little bit.  Everybody was tryin’ to get under this water. They kill each other almost right away, see. Finally, he turn down the water.
PERRY: He turned down the water?
SCHWARTZ: Yah, he turned down the water and he start the doggone…  Boy, I remember this doggone, what you call it, this bathtub.  I don’t wish nobody if you went lookin’ for pain, was pouring in the open wounds and you walk in in a bathtub of raw lysol.
PERRY: Yeah, it’s caustic.
SCHWARTZ: And this almost drove a man crazy, see.  I don’t know how we got out alive from this thing.
So, after they got us already rinsed down this thing and they started to process – to give us – the shirt, pair of pants.
PERRY: Prison clothes.
SCHWARTZ: Prison clothes, stripes, with a little cup.  And all of a sudden he hands me two, two wooden shoes, like in Holland, the wooden shoes.  And I said to myself, I says, “Oh brother, I’m not goin’ wearin’ this,” I says. “Man, man, man,” I says, “you can get killed” – (LAUGHTER) you couldn’t even walk with this.  So you got to have this, a newcomer you got to wear this, see. So, I don’t have no choice. They took away my other shoes and they put it in the bags, see.
PERRY: Sure, you sealed it yourself.
SCHWARTZ: Yah.  I put ’em on and all of a sudden they start to rub my feet.
We standin’ outside.  Three tables they put up to register us.  All of a sudden comes down one SS man. Later we find out who this is.  He’s givin’ us a speech.
PERRY: Mengele?
SCHWARTZ: No, this was that Pallisch, they killed him – his name was Pallisch.  Pallisch – Gerhardt Pallisch was his name. He played a big role. He killed thousands of them over there, man, man, man, this murderer.  So, he stood right over there on the third step of the building where the bathhouse was and he says, “Okay, you dogs, you arrived,” – and well, I’m tryin’ to tell this in English.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: “You arrived over here in KL Auschwitz…”
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, KL, konzentrat –
PERRY: Oh, oh, oh, KL (OVERTALK)
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, KL Auschwitz.  And he says, “Here if you behave yourselves and you work good, you livin’ from two days to a week. (PAUSE)  Any rabbis over here between you, rabbinas or priests? You livin’ only 24 hours,” he says. “And the rest of you dogs, one month – six weeks, the most.  Nobody escapes from over here, only you goin’ through with this big chimney you see over there.” There was an old crematorium sittin’ right there by Auschwitz where they was burnin’, burnin’ the old bodies from the hospitals, from the dead ones.  He says, “Through this chimney is the only way out.” So I was standin’ over there and I raise mine eyes to the, to the Almighty and I says, “If that’s is mine end already here,” I says, “there is nothing I can say, dear God,” I says. (PAUSE) And he went away.  He had a whip in his hand, I remember, he was hackin’ against his boots. He walked away and all of a sudden I see a man walkin’ – a big man walkin’ from over there, from the street, from the camp, walkin’ to our group, you know, between – by the bathhouse and he says, “Anyone here from Warsaw?”  I says, “I’m from Warsaw.” And to mine dismay, I look around and I see a big man and I look on him and he looks on me. He says, “Chamek?” I says, “Vladek.” He calls my name and I was callin’ his name, see. Vladek.
PERRY: Vladek is his name?
SCHWARTZ: Vladek was his name.
PERRY: And your name was?
SCHWARTZ: He called me Chamek – Chaim.
PERRY: Oh yeah, okay – Chamek.  I understand.
SCHWARTZ: He was workin’ for my uncle – he was a deliveryman.  He was a delivery man and I helped him in makin’ his contraption – this, this little cart, and hookin’ up to the bicycle.  He was deliverin’ in my uncle’s – to the stores.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: He says, “What the hell you doin’ over here?”  I says, “How long you been here?” I ask him. He says, “Don’t worry about nothing,” he says, “I’m here.”
PERRY: He was a…
SCHWARTZ: He was here a long time.  He was from the Polish officers who came over here.  He was not an officer. He found a uniform from a killed major, he put on, see.  He was only a corporal, see. And he thought, like in the First World War, that officers the Germans don’t kill…
PERRY: Sure, they’ll treat them well.
SCHWARTZ: He didn’t know it, but this war was the opposite way around, see.  They killed all high-ranking officers. So they kept, you know, to a corporal this…they let him through, you see.  So, he got, he got (LAUGHTER) caught…
PERRY: Caught in his own plan.
SCHWARTZ: In his own web.  And he’s tellin’ me the story, he says, “Don’t worry about a thing,” and he looks at me and he says, “Chamek,” he says, “boy, you lookin’ like a man done gone out to the grave already.”  I went down from 160 pounds…when I weighed, I was almost about 87 pounds.
PERRY: By that time you were 87 pounds?  Wow.
SCHWARTZ: I was nothin’ but a skeleton.  He says, “You know what, the first thing what I’m goin’ do, I’m have to feed you a little bit,” you know.
PERRY: But, how did he get food?
SCHWARTZ: Well, you see, there so many people got killed in this camp, so much soup left over…
PERRY: Oh, they didn’t know who was…
SCHWARTZ: So much bread was left over – people everyday got killed.  You know, it was laden, in the buildings was laden so much soup, you see.  He says, “Well,” he says, “get through first over here, this registration.”  And he was tellin’ me, he says, “You speakin’ the German, why you don’t tell ’em that you (LAUGHTER) you are a German?”  I says, “Are you kidding, man? Do you want me to get killed? They goin’ catch me, a Jew, telling he’s a German – do you know what goin’ to happen to me?”  I says, “They goin’ to hang me right over here in this building.” He says, “Well, okay, but you can say you Polish.” I says, “What, with my name, Schwartzwald?”  He says I can say Polish. “Well, you must be sick in the head,” I’m tellin’ him. He says, “Well, you can do no better,” says, “Say you’re Jewish, that’s all.” He says, “I’m here, don’t worry about anything,” he says.  I says, “What you mean, you here?” “I’m goin’ bring you some food and goin’ fill you up a little bit.”
You know, in two, three weeks, doggone, I gained about 15-20 pounds.  I believe I was the only Jew in the history of Auschwitz what was gainin’ weight in Auschwitz. (LAUGHTER)
PERRY: How come he had the food available?  Why didn’t the other people have the food?
SCHWARTZ: Well, like they brought in five barrels of soup.  Was about a hundred people was sick, they couldn’t eat.  And a hundred of them was dead already – couldn’t eat. This soup was there on the belt.  All he had to do was dippen in with a bowl and bring it over to me, see. That’s what he did, see.  And sometime a piece of bread too, see.
PERRY: Was he in another barracks?
SCHWARTZ: He was in another barracks.
PERRY: I see.
SCHWARTZ: But, well, we goin’ across, I will show you the whole thing what we did, see.  So, they registered me over here and the political prisoners they didn’t tattoo right away – only the Jews what came in on the transports, they tattoo.  The political prisoners they didn’t put the number on there right away, see. So I was goin’ without a number, see.
PERRY: Then you were considered a political prisoner because of your education?
SCHWARTZ: That’s right, that’s right.  I was considered a political prisoner.
PERRY: Even though you were Jewish?
SCHWARTZ: Yah, yah.  I got, I got through the Reichsfuhrer, through Himmler, the schuzebefehl, the papers.
PERRY: It says you’re a political prisoner.
SCHWARTZ: I’m a political prisoner.
PERRY: I see.
SCHWARTZ: And I told mine other Polish around me, you know, the guys from the same city, I says, “We got a little help over here, maybe we can…it’s not so black, like it is…Maybe, maybe somehow we – God will have mercy on us.  Maybe we can still get out from this. Oh,” I says, “He’s with you all the time. Your spirit is all the time how you see how black it’s getting you all the time. You’re not givin’ up yet.” I says, “No, I will never give up,” I says, “that’s what keeps you alive,” I says.  If you given up, you heard what they said, two days and you goin’ be dead. Many of them died in two days. Some of them didn’t make it even two days.
So, after I got dressed, and they give me those wooden shoes, and I got registered and they put me with a piece of some kinda of a pencil, they mark a number on your chest, that you (LAUGHTER) don’t forget.  ’Til you gotten in the Block, they give you here a piece of – a number and put you on the pants over here a little number. So they took us first in Block Seven; Auschwitz, the camp was divided and between this was a – a concrete wall, see.
PERRY: In the middle of the camp.
SCHWARTZ: In the middle of the camp, see.  And they had to make an entlausen to kill the typhus.  So one side was already cleared up, cleared up, and the other side was not yet – still sick.  So they put us in Block Seven in the top. I was there one night. Next morning he says, “What’s your call of profession?”  He says, “What’s your profession?” “Well,” I says – instead of sayin’ I’m a chemical, I’ll say I’m a carpenter. He told me, he says, “Get away from those convicts,” he says. “Get away from those blokes and get hooked up with a working group.”  Then you gotta bigger chance to survive, you see.
So, I raised my hand.  I says, “I’m a carpenter,” and I says, “I’m also a mechanic.” And they took us from the block to another camp on the other side in Block 19, see.  I got into Block 19, this was not the working block yet, see. Was a – son-of-a-gun – a German, a six footer with such a big muscles and tattoos all over him.  And he was making sport with us. After the pill in the morning, he put us down, you know, _______…This is worse, sittin’ like that, to sittin’ in…
PERRY: Oh yeah, oh yeah.  After a while you can’t move.
SCHWARTZ: One day, two days, three days.  Finally, doggone, I say, all of a sudden I says, you know, comes by one guy, he says, “Look, they need carpenters, you’d better get over there and go in this Block, this building over there, the registrar.  They gonna take you out from this Block, put you in this one, you see. You are goin’ out with a kommando, D.A.W.” D.A.W. they call it Deutsche Ausrustungs Werke.  What they doin’, the carpenters, painters, you name it, schlossers and they got oh, all kinda what you call it – professionals.
PERRY: All kinds of skills.
SCHWARTZ: Skills, yah.  Well, we got in in this building in the night.  And they put us on the top. They call it, the bottom, they call it 18.  On the top they call it 18 R – 18 A. All of a sudden we laden down our bones already to sleep and all of a sudden, in the night, “Everybody raus,” you know, eintreten.  What the hell is goin’ on, they don’t let you sleep in the night?  Day and night is goin’ on this thing. So, eintreten’s on…eintreten.  They don’t tell you, but they had about 150 of us, mostly Jews.  And they marched us to the gate. They marched us to the gate and they marched us out close to track, and all of a sudden they’re gone.  And I find myself between, between packages, valises and this, bags – people from the transports, was comin’ in the Jews, see. So, finally, I got in touch with other prisoners, French Jews mostly and I says, “What’s goin’ on here?”  He says, “You don’t know.” I says, “I just got in yesterday and I don’t know,” see. He says, “Here is this place where all the transports arrive.”
PERRY: The transports?
SCHWARTZ: From Paris we just had one transport.  It’s comin’ in another one, stays over there in the city of Auschwitz on the siding.  We’ve got to clean up this and then comes another one. I says, “What the hell goin’ on over here, what they doin’.”  He say, “Don’t you know, that’s a bad camp – Auschwitz – they killin’ them with gas.”
PERRY: They knew.
SCHWARTZ: Yah, they knew.  I didn’t know it, you see.  He says to me, “You didn’t this, Auschwitz, this is a death camp?”  I says, “No, I just got in here,” I says. He says, “That’s what’s is.  They got over there a little house and baths, people takin’ off clothes and with machine gun they run them in this building.  They turn on the gas and locken up the doors and turning on the gas and later they burnin’ the corpses over there, you know.” Boy, I got so shooken up, I almost got the diarrhea.  He says, “Who told you – why, why did you came over here to work?” I said, “They took us out in the back in the night. I didn’t want come; it’s not my own free will…” I met a bunch of French Jews.  They came from Poland, the border of Poland and they moved them to, to Paris. And it looked like they brought them back from Paris – all of the Jews were born in Poland, not from France. Some of them came from Turkey, everything…
PERRY: Fled to France.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  So they tellin’ us, to loaden up those trucks with those packages salamis with bread, white bread.
PERRY: They brought it with them?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  I says, “They let you eat over here?”  He says, “Yah, you can eat all you want.  You can drink all you want. When those people get where they goin’, they don’t need it anymore – nothing anymore.”
So, I says to my friends, I says, “Well, what you think we should do.”  See, I don’t know what we will do. We’re tryin’ to get out from this if we can, if they let us.  One Jew over there says, “You know what they doin’ to this kommando – it’s every three months – they liquidatin’ them, all of them.”  Those were the workmen who came in the crematoria. Those were the workmen in the barracks, and those were the workmen over here, see.  So, every three months, they liquidatin’ them.
Well, I got back after we got through workin’ about 24 hours.  After I got through work, this after this, I got in in the building in my Block, Vladek is lookin’ for me.  He says, “I don’t know what happened to you. Tell me what happened to you.” And I keep tellin’ him this is what happened.  He says, “Well, don’t worry about it. Tomorrow, tomorrow, you join up with another kommando. _______, you see, they goin’ over there.  And if you get in to this kommando then they can take you out ________ from this kommando, to goin’ over there, see.”
PERRY: So you had to get in to the D.A.W.?
SCHWARTZ: Yah, that’s right.  “Well,” he says, “I fix this, don’t worry about it.”  He went that day to the schreiber in this building, the Block schreiber, and he come back.  He says, “Tomorrow, when they call D.A.W., you know, kommando D.A.W., you will be right there mixed up with them, and that’s all there is to it, see.”
PERRY: How did he have so much influence?
SCHWARTZ: He was there already since 1940. ’40, he arrived over there in July of 1940.
PERRY: And he was a political prisoner, so he wasn’t killed?
SCHWARTZ: He was, he was a political prisoner and he went through plenty over there.  They killed most of them over there.
PERRY: But, he survived.
SCHWARTZ: He survived, see.  He had a good position in the camp.  He was in the fire brigade, you see.

Tape 2 - Side 2 (Perry)

PERRY: This is Tape 2, Side B, on February 16, of the story as narrated by Herman Schwartz, Eli Perry, interrogator…that’s a terrible word…Eli Perry, questioner.
SCHWARTZ: So, my friend, Vladek, he tried to transfer me to this, this kommando out and they get me on this D.A.W. where the professionals was workin’ ’cause I was afraid that this kommando in another couple weeks is goin’ be liquidated again.  But, one day, came a break without him, without him knowing. I just stepped out in the morning and I just got into this kommando. They took down my number and then this kommando marched out through the gate to D.A.W., over there to this place where the D.A.W. was located and that’s how I was need.  I got over there and all of a sudden, they ordered newcomers to puttin’ on the, the lumberyard to work – to bring lumber to the machine, to cuttin’ this – they had, they was makin’ many things over there for the Wehrmacht and for the camp. They was makin’ those beds over there, they was makin’ for the barracks and they was makin’ even boxes, ammunition, for the artillery shells.
So, I got acquainted with this fuhrarbeiter, his name was Klimchok, name was Klimchok.  He was in the vicinity of Auschwitz. He used to live over there.  So, he told me the whole story. I got acquainted with him. He was a pretty good guy.  Uh, I don’t know, sometimes I saw him hittin’ people without mercy too. I don’t know what’s got’s happen to him, he took a liking to me.
PERRY: Was he a German guard?
SCHWARTZ: He was a Polish man but he was a fuhrarbeiter…
PERRY: A leader?
SCHWARTZ: A fuhrarbeiter, what you call a foreman.  And, I was getting along with him pretty fair and all of a sudden, I saw this especially cold day, and I said to him, I says, “You know,” I says, “I want to go inside.”  I says, “Workmen, they paintin’ those beds. Let me go over there.” He says, “Wait a few days, I get – I arrange this for you.”
PERRY: Did he know you were Jewish?
SCHWARTZ: He know it.  But I don’t know, sometime, you know, when luck and fate is with you, somethin’ is happen many things, you don’t know even, you can’t understand how they happen, see.
I was getting’ along pretty – very good.  You see, his number was a very long number, he was in the 4000, you know, one of the first arrivals in camp.  He went through hell himself. I could understand that. And, he told me the whole story and well, I was pickin’ up perfect Polish.  He thought that I am, some kind of…oh, very seldom a Polish born didn’t speak a Polish like that.
PERRY: (INTERRUPTING AND NOT CLEAR) But you went to a good school.
SCHWARTZ: Yah.  So, that’s the reason he got to me and he thought I’m a high up officer or something.  He knew I’m Jewish. I told him. He saw the Star of David…
PERRY: Oh sure, you had the Star of David.
SCHWARTZ: You know, the Star of David, yellow and red, and mine number on.  And he says, “Wait a few days, I’ll let you go,” see. So in a couple days he says to me, “You know, go up to this kapo,” they used to call him red face, red eyes, they call him.  He had such a red, big eyes. He was a doggone German, a Reichsdeutscher, he was, a kapo to the Malerei, and they from the painters.  So, I got over there and I reported to him.  I says, “Mr. Klimchok sent me up over here. I’m a professional painter,” I told him.  He says, “What you are?” I says, “I’m a professional painter.” He says, “Well, I’m goin’ see right away what you doin’.”  He gives me a brush and I was holdin’ the brush, already puts paint in my hand. He says, “Oh, yah, come on – come on. The other ones…they’re not.”  He says, “Dogs, they don’t know even how to hold a brush in the hands,” he says. “Come on.” So I got over there and I got to this doggone and I started paintin’, you know, those windows.  The paint was so rough. It was an ersatz paint; it wasn’t even a paint.  Was just a color, like we call it an undercoating.
PERRY: Just pigmentary.
SCHWARTZ: Yah.  And I put on one side, was comin’ out too dark and another side it you spread it, it was comin’ out too light.  And I asked another guy – was a couple friends, Jews, one particular name was Pohl – he survived the war – I saw him in Paris in 1963.  And he’s telling me, he says, “Ah, don’t make nothing of this, just keep a flap over,” he says, and that’s all there is to it.
Well, next morning, next morning I had two friends.  They were mine – they came in together with me in the camp from my hometown.  His name was Shai Borstein. He was a little crippled; he was wearing a corset.  His spine was broken or something; he has kind of disease. So it was light work.  I says, “Come on with me tomorrow and just hold the brush.” I show him how to do it.  He get it. And another one, Moshe Grossman. He came in with me together on the same transport.  So I took those both in and I was standing, we was doin’ paintin’. This was already around about September, the end of September.  All of a sudden came a befehl from Berlin.  It was all political prisoners and all who are Poles – Pollacks – has to be tattooed, ’cause we didn’t have no tattoo at the prison.
PERRY: Even though you were wearing a Star of David, you still weren’t tattooed?
SCHWARTZ: Because I was a political prisoner.
PERRY: You were a political prisoner and a Jew, that’s…
SCHWARTZ: That’s right, that’s a strange thing but that’s true.  And I, well all of a sudden, they came in, those boys that making those numbers, they came in, they put your number on your arm, because some Pollacks was escapin’ you see.  So they came from Berlin and we got to have all the numbers tattooed on.  Well, this was already September and this was October already, came in the Rosh Hashana.  So, I got in touch with my Landsmann too.  He came in with my _____ but he was the rabbi’s son-in-law.  Yaakov Fuchs was his name. He was the rabbi’s son-in-law, he married the rabbi’s daughter, and he was in the same transport too.  He worked in the Bekleidingskammer, in the clothing stores.  He worked, with another Jew – too from my hometown, Mordecai Miller.  The rest of them from the 24 was nothin’ left over, only those few of them, that’s all – in a short time, you see.
And he says to me, “You know, Chaim,” he says, “you know, this Monday, a week, I come over and we go outside and we go have about 10 people in a couple groups standing around like they’re talking, and say a few prayers for Rosh Hashana,” he says.  He do it, he was a _______.  So, I says, “Well, if you want to do this, it’s okay.”  He came over, and you know what he did, he brought a little coffee sweetened with saccharin – I don’t know where he got it – and he made Kiddush.
PERRY: He made Kiddush?
SCHWARTZ: Yah, outside.  And I says to him, “Well, I’m glad wir habengelbt zu dies zeit.”  Now they paid a big price; there was 19 of us gone already, only about four or five left over, you see.
SCHWARTZ: ________ Rosh Hashana.  He says, “You know what, Yom Kippur, Yom Kippur I will come over and I will sing Kol Nidre.”  So, Yom Kippur he came over and he said Kol Nidre and he said…what you call it, Rosh Hashana you could say it…
PERRY: Yeah, yeah, yeah – Nsanah Tokef.
SCHWARTZ: Nsanah Tokef.  He was cryin’ like a baby; I remember this, and that was his last Yom Kippur because he froze in January.  He froze. He froze to death. I saw him froze to death.  I saw him out the door and he was gone already, see, with a white foam around his mouth and he was gone already.  And so that was the end of him…
But, all of a sudden, rumors started spreadin’ in the camp.  My friends what we worked are still on the, by the train with the transports comin’ in _______.  Sometimes was started comin’ in already from your new neighborhood over there around Plonsk, you know some ghettos.  “Oh,” I says, to one of the brothers, “now my mother is comin’ in too.” He says, one guy says, “Probably this but,” he says they’re liquidating all Jewish ghettos around there in, in, in Suddeutsch Preussen they used to belong to Prussia.
Well, it didn’t took long, I saw already people comin’ in from my hometown, from the ghetto.  And about two weeks later, about two weeks later, mine two cousins came in a transport. We were staying in the morning under appel.  I saw them bringin’ in about 150 men, from the gate marchin’ into the bath over there, to the room to processin’ them.  And I looked and I see two my cousins. They are alive; they survived. One is a doctor in Kansas City. He was a young kid when he came to concentration camp and he finished medical school over here and became a pediatrician in Kansas City.
PERRY: And they were there about three years, too?
SCHWARTZ: Yah, yah.  But they didn’t stay in Auschwitz.  They send them out to the bunawerke.
PERRY: Ah, the bunawerke, synthetic rubber plants.
SCHWARTZ: Yah, they send them out over there, and I asked my cousin, Sam – he’s in New Jersey.  I says, “Did you see my mother?” He says, “I was ridin’ with her in the same, the same car,” he says.  “And she had your coat on” – this coat that I have…
PERRY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: And she had on this coat, she had on, see.  And she told me in case when I see her in those camps – she saw when the guard, when they moved in, to the siding of Auschwitz, that’s where in case when you see my son, tell him that I’ve got everything, all his clothes.  She didn’t know that they goin’ to their death, see.
PERRY: Goin’ to the what?
SCHWARTZ: They’re goin’ right away…
PERRY: Oh, their death.  Yes, yes, yes, of course.
SCHWARTZ: So – she told him, “Tell him that I took everything along, his clothes and everything I got.”  He came and told me this and says, “You know what, Herman, I was helpin’ them to get up on the truck, puttin’ them up on truck.  I put my mother on the truck, your mother on the truck.” I didn’t say nothing, not ask any questions…
PERRY: You knew what was going to happen.  You knew, they took the older people directly.
SCHWARTZ: He asked me, he says, “When we goin’ see our parents,” you know, “where they goin’?”  Well, it kinda like a needle would get in my throat. I couldn’t open my mouth.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: And I said, “Sam,” I said, “it’s too early now.  Don’t talk about it yet.” That’s what I told him.  But this only words I could pull out of myself, so you know.
And they dressed them up.  They shaved them and they dressed them and they moved them to the Bunawerke.
PERRY: That’s Sam.
SCHWARTZ: Sam with Joe together.  He went right away on the outside from the main camp of Auschwitz, oh, I would say about 15 kilometers away.  Manovitzeh, he used to call it, this place.  Used to be over there a thousand people.  Later, this camp grew to a, to a couple thousand even.  They had British prisoners of war over there workin’.
And so what is happened, and I’m getting’ a little bit farther – comes over to me somebody tips me on my shoulder.  “Chamek,” I turned around. He used to live in our house. We took him in because we had to have three more families there.(OVERTALK) So, mama took him in.  You know, he jumped on me, and I says, “Mordechai, what – you came in over here too.” He says, “Yah, I’m here too.” He says to me again, “When I’m gonna see mine wife and the baby?” (SIGHS) I couldn’t, I couldn’t answer nothing anymore.  I know I turned away and I said to him, I says, “Well, you goin’ see…” – I walked away like with a – something was laden on my chest like a ton of – I couldn’t answer him. What you goin’ answer? Right away I says, “Look we goin’ already this time,” and this minute they’re gassin’ them.
PERRY: Yes, yes, how can you say that?
SCHWARTZ: Couldn’t say it.  So, he went to the bunawerke too.  See, this transport is 7900 but they had the number 79000 and something…They went to the bunawerke.  And this SS man, I asked him how many transports is left over in this city.  And he says, “About one more.” That comes to Judenrat mit de Jewish police, with the rest of the young people, see.  I says, “Well.” He asked me how long I’m here. I says, “I’m here about six months, that’s all it is,” and I says, “Sam, you look not too bad,” I says.  I couldn’t tell him the whole story, couldn’t tell the whole story. You’re not going to tell the whole story…
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: And that’s was November, 19…
PERRY: 42.
SCHWARTZ: 42.  Then November 21, 1942, which I got tattooed on mine…
PERRY: Oh yes.
SCHWARTZ: Right over here, the date – I made this to cover up that, to cover up, to camouflage.  And I got on both hands something, not only on this hand. So, this was November 21, 1942 when I reunited (?), my friends brought me back to the camp a spoon, and a fork, and they brought me back a shirt. Ungar (?) put on a shirt, my shirt, and brought me back (OVERTALK) And he says, “And I was wearing this for a long time, this shirt, ’til she pulled apart.”  And with the knife and the fork I was…And then, that was already in November, and the people was – what I saw in the camps, more Jews came in. More got killed.  They went on the electric barbed wire and they couldn’t take it and killed themselves. The Polish – I thought the Polish Jews can take a little more…
PERRY: But it’s hard, though.
SCHWARTZ: But…I was mistaken, as so many of them – I don’t know; they was driven to it.  I believe from dispair. Dispair, that’s what I call it. Sometime you just don’t give a hoot for your life.  And that’s all there is to it.
PERRY: Right, right.  You can’t take it anymore.
SCHWARTZ: You can’t take it anymore.  See, that’s what gonna happen.  Everyday they was layin’ on the barbed wire.  They was layin’…
PERRY: They just threw themselves –
SCHWARTZ: That’s all.  That’s what gonna happen.  And in the meantime the camp got so big, you know, in the – it looked like the SS got so, a little bit jittery; they took all the old numbers, all the first guys what was already established, and they shipped them out.  To Mauthausen, to Neuengamme, to Gross-Rosen, to Buchenwald; they sendin’ them out, those older prisoners. They’ve been in Auschwitz already for a year and a half, two years, they ship them out, see. And Vladek disappears mit them too.  They took him too. (QUIETLY)
PERRY: They took Vladek.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  Well, he went – he went to Mauthausen, later I find out, and he got killed up there at Mauthausen ’cause he was a high-ranking officer.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: And they liquidate ’em so fast.  The high-ranking officers they killed so fast.  They didn’t want ’em around (OVERTALK) –
PERRY: But he was there two years.
SCHWARTZ: In Auschwitz.  But then he got to Mauthausen.
PERRY: Mauthausen, that was –
SCHWARTZ: That was the end of Vladek, you see.  And there would be many more of them. But over there they had Mauthausen, they had 160 steps broken up and you strapped around, and…big stones to carry up, and you fell down you just –
PERRY: Dead.
SCHWARTZ: That’s was the end of it. Many American fliers, officers, got killed – they killed them over there in two hours, that’s what it was, it takes only there two hours to be killed, Mauthausen.  I heard this a little later, see. I find out this, that over there was the end of him. They took all the high-ranking officers and they liquidate them so fast. They didn’t want no shadow of them even, see, they was afraid.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: And if they come to fight, they gonna be the leaders.  They don’t want no leaders.
PERRY: Sure, destroy the leaders.
SCHWARTZ: That’s right.  So, this was going on like that.  I had those friends in the – in this kommando with the French Jews.  We was just like blood brothers. If I told them, look, I needed a diamond, bring me a diamond.  For a diamond you could get two loaves of bread, three loaves of bread; I had a salami. I says, they brought me.  I need a gold watch or something, they brought it. I needed shoes; I took off the shoes, next day they got over there, where they was working they would find plenty of shoes.  So, I was helping a couple guys, I was helping, but I couldn’t help all of them. The thing is, the kapo from this kommando, the leader from this kommando was a Jewish – an Austrian, from Vienna.  His name was Hans. He had my number, 60 thousand, mit 200, you know.  Up a little bit, he came up there later to the camp, see.  So that’s the reason I know, because we were on the same Block, in Block Seven, when we arrived.  Later we went to 19. We was sittin’ kniebogen for a day.  And I’ve got a point that if you know him, he was, you know, closin’, German, he was _____ son-of-a-gun, _________.  You know, he was not scared; he was a peppy guy. And I got kind of a like to him. I was the same thing; I didn’t let myself getting killed, and he didn’t let himself getting killed either, see.  So he was the kapo from this kommando, from this, what they worked on the train, loadin’ the train, the people up. So I say…he saw me and he says, “Chamek, what – when you gonna come on back?” I says, “Not for…,” I says, “I’m afraid.”  I told him the…This kommando is too hard for me. I know already what they did; every three months they liquidatin’. He says, “No, they existin’ already four, five, six months. Don’t be afraid, come on.” I says, “Look, I don’t need to go there.  If I needed something I always come to you or and other friends to bring to me whatever I want.” I says, I says, “If this Polish guy and remember what I _______, he is gone already. They took him to Mauthausen.”
Well, Christmas day, 1942, I woke up in the morning, “Eintreten everybody.”  And they took us out over there to the ramp where the transports arrivin’.  And I comed up; I see a train so long I couldn’t find the end of it. Nothing loaded, but potatoes, potatoes, you know, about a hundred carloads.  And they started bringing out, those guys from those camps, not only from Auschwitz, from other camps around, from the little camps.
We goin’ to open the doors, and the potatoes, you know, we had to put them in in the ground.  Pack ’em around with straw and puttin’ dirt on the top, storagin’ them for the winter. This was about a hundred carloads of potatoes.  And all of a sudden I see a whole company of SS mens marching in from the city (OVERTALK) from the city of Auschwitz, a whole company of SS –
PERRY: Oh, SS men.
SCHWARTZ: SS men marching in from the city.  And, boy, let me tell you, they hold in their hands, I don’t know, sticks, cables (?), pipes, chains, everything.  And boy, when the massacre start off, you should see how fast those hundred carloads potatoes was unloaded. You looked around you could see a pile of people laying dead ones, half dead, bloody, stuff gone, broken their heads, their face – you couldn’t recognize it.  Massacres, it was Christmas day 1942. We called this day the Ruckzug von Stalingrad, see.
PERRY: The Ruckzug von Stalingrad.
SCHWARTZ: The Ruckzug von Stalingrad, the calamity of Stalingrad was the end, see.  And we had a Ruckzug von Stalingrad.  We worked all the way ’til seven o’clock in the night without a food, without anything.  I had two holes in my head, and I had a bump here on my spine, with this I wound up, this date, see.  But I was still alive. (PAUSE)
So each day we was stayin’ in the camp; nobody was bothering us.  It was like in our homes, typhus was raging. And I had contact, before Vladek left for Mauthausen he introduced me to couple other Poles…for organization.  So finally one day, one guy comes around, a little fellow, he comes around. He walks up to my bed. “I’m looking for a guy, his name is Chamek,” in Polish. And I says, “I am Chamek.”  And he says, “You used to know Vladek, don’t you?” “Oh yeah,” I says, “Oh yeah, what’s happened to Vladek?” He say, “He went to Mauthausen, and we don’t know what – nothing about him anymore.”
So…little by little he lets me in on a little secret, it’s now that all the Poles are gone, they needed delivery people for the lice, stick in the SS.  “I’m willing to work with you, anytime. But if you have to take care of me. If I have to go to another kommando, you’ve got to arrange this in the office, ’cause nobody – lately they’re gonna grab me and put me in the penal company, and that’s gonna be all for me.  “We’re gonna arrangin’ for you-” (OVERTALK) “Don’t worry about it, we gonna arrangin’ it for you. We haven’t got – we haven’t got anymore this personnel that we had before. They’ve all was shipped out…with the transport. Then they made three, four transports left Auschwitz.  And now they needed. I says, “Well,” I says, “Look, I’m willing to do it. To kill them Krauts, to kill them Nazis,” I says, “I don’t care if I drop dead too,” I says, “But they’re going with me.”  Because everybody knew those days, in 1942, this – it’s goin’ to be no end; they’re goin’ to kill us all.
PERRY: Yeah, by that time everybody –
SCHWARTZ: That’s right, everybody knows it’s going to be the end of us.  Before they goin’ givin’ up, they gonna clean us all out, see. That’s what we knew, see.  So I says, “I’m willing to work with you.” So he says, “We gonna let you know; we got this what you give to Vladek, for making from the straw this thing.”  I says, “It works perfect.” He says, “In – we are thankful for this, that you people have finally came up with something because we had a problem.”
PERRY: Could you explain that?  Because you explained it to me yesterday when we were done, and it isn’t on the tape.  Could you explain what you did?
SCHWARTZ: Take this…they used to put this in in a little bitty piece of paper and makin’ just like a little pocket.
PERRY: What were you trying to do?
SCHWARTZ: They was puttin’ in – they was puttin’ in the top; they was breeding the lice and putting this in that – in this.  But the thing is, the paper, was a little bit hard for them to open up this…it was too dangerous, they told me. In case sometime they search you and they find a piece of paper in your pocket.  All the time they look it over and see if nothing is written on it and something, because it’s bound to be something. On an innocent piece of straw, the straw’s on, you slept on, so nobody paid attention to it, see.
PERRY: And why were you raising this place and the typhus?
SCHWARTZ: To kill, to kill, to stick into the SS men and let them havin’ the taste of typhus too.
PERRY: So throw it at them…
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, we sticked in a nice place; they didn’t see it.  They took off their coat or something, and you just walk over and –
PERRY: Drop it on the way…
SCHWARTZ: You dropped – so you slipped in this piece of straw and you opened this up, and you slipped ’em in in the pocket, or in a sleeve, or in the lining, or in any place, you hit ’em right, it was okay, if not you tried again.  That’s all there is to it. So, he says, “This principle that you deliver to us, about the straw, how to do on this, works perfect. And we grateful for it.” I says, “Well,” I says, “I’m glad something we could help.” He says, “I let you know when, and I let you know which kommando, see, you will go.”  That was already springtime 1943. Springtime 1943 he came over, he came and he says, “You know what, tomorrow morning get in this kommando what you call BBD.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  This mean Bau Betrieb, the third was…Dienst, something like this, yeah.  I says, “What kind of kommando is this?”  He says, “Bricklayers, painters, all different kind of professions.  You know, you’re going to the women’s camp, to Birkenau.”
PERRY: Birkenau was all ladies.
SCHWARTZ: Was men and women over there too, see.  Was men and women too.
PERRY: Okay.
SCHWARTZ: They used to call it Auschwitz II, number two, yeah.  “And you’re going to the women’s camp.” And I says, “Why I’m going to the women’s camp?”  He says, “We gonna give you – you gonna do us a little favor. You’re going to take with you some pockets with medicine for the women over there in Birkenau.  They dyin’ like flies, women had typhus and other kinds of disease. You’re taking some medicine with you. We gonna give you ampuehl, you know, what you call ampuehlen.
PERRY: Yeah, ampuehls.
SCHWARTZ: Okay, yeah.  I says, “Okay.”  I didn’t tell about it first, in the beginning, I says, “After I make the first drop, the first day,” I says, “Those son-of-a-guns still going only for their own people be usin’ this.  How about the Jewish girls getting some of ’em too?” See? So when I got back to the camp and he says, “Tomorrow we gonna do the same thing.” I says, “Look, I’m gonna ask you a question; I want a straight answer.  This, I’m pullin’ the medicine only for your people, for the Polish. But it is for the Jewish too.” He says, “As far as I know, it’s only for the Poles.” I says, “Forget about it. I’m not takin’ no more of this. That’s what I thought.”  He says, “Why?” I says, “The Jewish women are comin’ around to death already. They don’t let them even go, they drop ’em dead to the ________ hospitals. What a pity sight to see them – women over there in Birkenau, see ’em in the womens camp, see.”
So I stopped.  I was goin’ still to Birkenau, but I didn’t took nothin’ with me.  I saw mine people over there, these young women that I know from my hometown.  They was glad to see me and they told me who was already gone – you knowin’ this and you knowin’ this…I was goin’, well we was doin’ a little brickwork.  We were doin’, oh, in the buildings, we were doing. Mostly though for me was going around and see what thing we could steal. Over there was open. They put stores; the clothing store was open.  We got enough – I took her out ___________. If a girl saw me, she need something, I give it to her. So I dropped her off.
In ’43 a little – a little ray of hope start to comin’ in the camps already, see.
PERRY: Because the Germans are retreating?
SCHWARTZ: That’s right.  A little ray of hope is start to comin’ in.  And I see, the attitude from the SS men is a little bit already – but you saw still a ferocity from them.  Like women was building the streets in the women camp; I passed by, I know that a brute, a killer, an SS man – his name was Schultz.  He was a butcher, boy –

Tape 3 - Side 1 (Perry)

PERRY: This is tape number three, side a, of the story as told by Herman Schwartz.
SCHWARTZ: And, uh, he passed by and he saw this woman and he stopped. You know, he saw this woman who barely could lift a pound, and here you got – you got to lift 50 pounds or more.  So this brute went over. He picked up this woman by the leg; he hit her head on the rough stone, smashed her head right away for _______.
PERRY: Oh my, oh my.
SCHWARTZ: Then he dropped her just like a rag doll, down.  He took – he runned away; he didn’t even ________ (OVERTALK)
So I saw this kind of atrocities and said to mine God, I says, “Well, well, well, what is happenin’?” (PAUSE)  Another day, we had to put in a pump. This was – the crematorium was just opened up in 19 – opened up, you know, in…was it February or March was it.  And I – the hole was there, digged already, all we had to do is takin’ up the truck and puttin’ up the pump and connecting this to the pipes. All of a sudden in the blue skies I see down the road, comin’ down a truck and a motorbike in the front.  And to mine sorrow, what I saw on this truck, young children in a yeshiva. (PAUSE) In a school, just a school –
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: You should how beautiful groomed those boys, 10, 12, or 13 years old, with the books, and there are – there must be a hundred in the truck ’cause was a big truck.  The crematorium was workin’ already there, but they couldn’t catch up so fast. They had in the back of the crematorium they had trenches, you know they was burnin’ corpses over there too.  I was like right there by this corner…couldn’t be more than about 250 feet away. The truck swinged around and backs up right to the fire, and dumped the whole lot of little children. (QUIETLY) It was just like that. (SIGHS) There was a little bit howlin’ but a couple of machine gun shots and that’s was all over with what I heard.  I thought this is all already. (SIGHS) After, I looked and I laid my head up to the sky and I says, “Oh God,” I says, “If you are still alive, I don’t know…”
PERRY: Where are you.
SCHWARTZ: That’s right.  That’s what I said exactly, “Where are you?” (PAUSE) So this…motorbike, the SS man on the motorbike, he drives away back over there on the road and he comes back with another truckload.  I says, “God, this doggone thing you’re not gonna end over here today.” (SIGHS) Well, the same old thing. He backs up to the pile, you hear only a little scream, a couple shots, and that’s it.  That’s was all of it. I thought this was all already. But it was not all yet. He went with the motorbike and brought another truck in.
SCHWARTZ: Three truckloads was there with the children.  (CRYING AND SIGHING) 12 years old, 13 years old, kids with their sidelocks –
PERRY: Peyos.
SCHWARTZ: Peyos, with their little kapotkas, you know, I don’t know where they kept it.  I believe the Germans maybe kept this – a special school for those kids.  They showin’ off from some ghetto or someplace…
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: Came special orders, looked like.  You know who was there, Mengele was there…doggone it; he was standing there, look, with a pistol in his hand.  I saw the car, in the back and on the side, but after this doggone thing, pulled them out, and sombody says, “Mengele did this doggone thing.”
So, I tell you no lie.  On this doggone day I lost – I lost my belief in God, in everything what was there.  This was no more. I can believe no more, I says, this is the end of it. I cannot believe no more.  Somebody says something about God, I says, “Forget it.” I mean the end. There was this man was praying. He was a baal harachamin, or something.  He’s such a kind of thing.  So I says, “How’s this and nothing happened?”  I says, “I don’t know. I can’t believe no more.”  They thought I went crazy. That’s what he thought.  You know, two more Jews I had with me over there and they thought that maybe I went crazy. He says, “Chaim,” he says, “what are you doing?”  I said – I says, “I’m telling you, doggone, that’s it. That’s is all of it for me.”
PERRY: Umhmm.
SCHWARTZ: Well, finally we put in the pipe, you know, and we went home.  And I couldn’t eat no more supper. I couldn’t eat nothing.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: Everything was ________ on me and I was so mad I could doggone take my knife and cut my own throat. (PAUSE) Well, next morning, we went to workin’ inside in the crematorium. They had a little job; they maked from the little bitty – from the little bitty gas chamber, they divided it to make a smaller one in case when they getting in 25 people.
PERRY: Right.
SCHWARTZ: They used to shoot them.  They used to have a little wall over there and they used to shoot them with a ________ right in the back of the head.  So, they build up a little wall; they put in a door. They put in a window. They had a little – small little chamber for 25, 35, 50 people, you know…
Right over there a couple guys workin’ and one guy says, “Herman, come over here.  We got something for you.” I says, “What you got?” I says. He shows me he got liver.  I says, “Oh,” I took a bite. Then they hit me in my head. I says, “What in the hell is happenin’?  Man, you eatin’ human livers?” He says, “No!” He says, “We – they don’t give you human liver.” And he said to me, “Let me tell you right where we got the livers.  The German ______ brought in two cows, in the slaughterhouse. And they say that something there that they don’t want to eat; it had a little disease or somethin’ was there.  So,” he says, “they callin’ us to see if we gonna eatin’ this.” And he shows me he got buckets full of liver. And they fryin’ this on a – on a cokes oven. (LAUGHTER)
PERRY: Cook’s oven?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, cook’s…coke oven, you know, coke oven – they, they was dryin’ the chambers after they hosed down the floors.  They was dryin’ this up. He put this on the fire; he hands me a chunk of it and he says, “Eat, Herman, the liver is good.  I don’t know what the hell, the…is broken, those doggone two cows are burnin’ up in the ovens.” So I stuffed myself with this liver…and got home.  Next day and next day, and I had another job. I went over there where the first little chamber was, where I told you was a little house with a straw roof on it.  The three barracks was sittin’ over there. After, after they build up the chambers and the crematorium they didn’t use anymore this thing over there. But over there they worked it ’til January, ’til the end of January, see they want this little gas chamber, see, with the open trenches.  And he says to me, “You know what? See around the frame over here, from one door. It was two doors, one in the front and one in the back. And the back was a little small gate with track – little wagons, after the gas they put the bodies on it and they move them up over there in the part of – and they burnin’ them, see.  He says, “We want to fixin’ this door over here in case we get overloaded over there.” And I hear him talking to this kapo in German, you know. He was a little criminal…German, with a green triangle. He was a criminal. They used to call ’em Yarmen(?).  He says, “In case when we get overloaded, we got to have this bunker to go back in operation.”
Well, we fixed the door.  We backed her up and we smoothed her over with mortar, everything.  And one guy locked me in in this little chamber, was dark – pitch dark inside.  And all of a sudden before mine eyes I could see people, even my mother before mine eyes.  She was reaching out her hand to me. And I says, “Boy,” and I open my mouth and I start to say Kaddish.  You know, right in the bunker, standing.  And the two guys with me, after they opened the door and they hear me sayin’ they said (OVERTALK).  That’s was the beginning March, I believe was this. And later, the end of March, they changed their mind again.  They got us over there – we got to take those three barracks apart. We movin’ someplace else. Those three barracks where the people undressed, you know, before they pushed them in these little chambers.  Over there, everybody could see this was the end of the line, see. There was no camouflage, nothing, was sheer murder over there, see. The people were doggone knockin’ __________, that’s was too. I got in in those barracks, and I started to walkin’ one way back and forth.  (SIGHS) And I thought to myself I says, “My mother was over here in one of these barracks.” I says, “Which one is it?”
PERRY: Which one is it, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, something.  And when I got in the second barrack, my heart started pounding and I says, (LOUD EXCLAMATION) I stop right away and I start saying Kaddish again, yeah?  And the Pollacks, over there around me, they says, “What in the hell are you singin’?”   I says, “I’m not singin’, I’m doin’ a little prayin’.” I says; I told ’em. (PAUSE) So, I look around on those walls, and I start readin’ in Jewish, in Polish, in Hebrew, what people put down on those walls.  They know they goin to their death. And one particular thing sticked in my mind, even today. And it was, “Kodem she’ halachnu al kiddush HaShem, anshe ha-ir Grodno,” Poland.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: And the name, Anelevich. There is a Jew from Grodno in Shaare Zedek; he told me Anelevich was a Hebrew teacher.  This name, and this few words is digged in my brain since then, since this day, March 1942.  Anelevich, Mordechai Anelevich was his name.
Well, we took those barracks apart.  We took ’em and put ’em right over there close to crematorium three, close to three, and put ’em up where the Bekleidungskammer, was there, and what you call it where the trans – all the packages from the transports they brought in over there a new place.  They build up like a whole little camp. There’s so many barracks – there’s only six left over now. That’s what I heard. The rest of them they burned up, the Nazis, before they left, the SS.  In – I was telling those people, I says, “Get a look over what they’re doing in those barracks. You gonna see something after they put up those barracks. Go in and read on the wall; you gonna see names.  Maybe – maybe it’s your family or somebody else’s family,” I says, “in Polish, in, in, in German, in Polish, in French, in Holland, in Greece, in Hebrew, in Yiddish. (OVERTALK) On those wooden boards, if I could find those barracks, you could still trace the names and read it.  I know where I put it, I know – I don’t know if they burned it down or not.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: So, that’s was the end of March.  It came around every holiday. We had (SIGHS) we had trouble with Mengele and selections, every Passover, every Rosh Hashanah, every holiday.
PERRY: Did you – did you usually see him make the selections?
SCHWARTZ: Oh yeah, I was takin’ part in ’em too. I was there too.  I was touched by Mengele, and he –
PERRY: He was making selections, this way, that way –
SCHWARTZ: Exactly, yeah, I was there too.  Right in the camp he was making this, right there by the kitchen.  All the Jews, you know the Poles weren’t in – in the block, in the building, Jews had to go through it.  One Pole’s tellin’, he says, “Why you not getting in.” He says, “We no want you. You’re a good boy.” He says, “We don’t want you; we want someone that’s Muselmann, that’s lookin’ – that’s lookin’ with the bones out.”  You know how they used to call it, Muselmann.
PERRY: Muselmann.
SCHWARTZ: Muselmann.
PERRY: I don’t know what that –
SCHWARTZ: Bad – bad looking body already, you know.  The…nothing but bones. That’s what you call it, the Muselmann.  That is a, a, a jargon in Auschwitz.  I don’t know they had it in other camps too.  That’s what we had to call it – Muselmann.  Those were the –
PERRY: Bag of bones.
SCHWARTZ: Bag of bones, you used to call it Muselmann.  Well, that was March, April, and I’m movin’ out one day to work, and I see some of the companies; what they moving out, kind of slow moving, well, they got to the gate and so what is happen.  That was 1943, Mengele stands there and picks out what he wants, nothing but Jews. And I’m the victim too this time.
PERRY: You were in the line.
SCHWARTZ: He took me out, ’til they had about 25 of ’em, the best element, the best kept element in the camp by – were lookin’ good still.  He took nothing but strong guys this time. They didn’t took anymore this – those bad looking ones, skinny, (OVERTALK) They took this time – they took the best ones.  Well, I look around. One, everybody is looking at me, a couple Czech Jews I used to know ’em from the transports. And what’s happenin’ now; I don’t know…I don’t know what Mengele is up to now.  We stayed so long over there on the side, about 25 or 30 of ’em, I don’t remember how much – how many of us, I can’t remember. They let all the kommandos went out to work. He says, “Come on, fall in everybody.”  In five, he marched us all right in the hospital. (PAUSE) I don’t remember which block – block building this was, this….I believe was Block 20 if I’m not mistaken, Block 20. (PAUSE) Block 20 we got in, upstairs, not downstairs.  Downstairs where they had to set the contagious diseases, you know, typhus, or something. Upstairs, they took us from the side door, not from the front door. We had to go through the whole corridor. They had inside right where the steps was, see.  We got up, and then he tell us, “Everybody take off the clothes. Takin’ only the shoes.” And he told the two over there, Pollacks I believe, he says, “Take away the clothes.  Put ’em right there in this corner, over there in the bag.”  He says, “Not on the top, only the bottom and the middle bunks.”  It was empty.
Well, in a half an hour later we were layin’ naked and I see Mengele with another – with another, with another doctor, holdin’ a jar, something in their hands.  A medical jar; I saw the label on it, but I couldn’t read what was there. And I seein’ they got a syringe needle they got, you know.
PERRY: Umhmm.
SCHWARTZ: And he comes around over there to us, and says, “Well,” he says we got to get the injection.
PERRY: He didn’t tell you what it was.
SCHWARTZ: No, no, nothing.
PERRY: He injected you with something.
SCHWARTZ: He injected with the same needle everybody.  He didn’t change no needles, let me tell you.
SCHWARTZ: (PAUSE) And we layin’.  And about two hours later, you know, all of a sudden I see what is happening.  Some of them getting the chills and they start shakin’ like hell. I mean like this. (PAUSE) And me and another friend Jew, a young kid, he was mine age, I believe 19 or 20, that’s what he was.  Well, me and him didn’t got it. And all of a sudden I see Mengele is coming in again and he’s checkin’. And I make believe that I am sick too. I pull the blanket over the head, even though I didn’t have it, and he went away.  All of a sudden, I see two men comin’ in and I recognize right away who they are. They are from the kommando what they makin’ the tattoos. Everybody sat up, except the ones who was layin, they couldn’t move anymore, the fever was doggone so high; they couldn’t move anymore.  He was holding the hand, and they was makin’ the “L”s what I told you about…
PERRY: Oh yeah, the “L” on your hand.
SCHWARTZ: On your hand, the “L,” the leiche.  I realized right away what this is.  I said, “Uh oh.” I said, “Brother, brother.”  I said, “This is the end of it. Here is the end of it,” I said.  And they make everybody the “L” and they came to me, I said, “Don’t make such a big one.” I told them, “Make a smaller one.”  He says, “Well, don’t worry about it,” he said to me. I says, “Don’t worry about it? Oh brother, I know what this is. Death is doggone…”
PERRY: Sentence of death.
SCHWARTZ: That’s what was.  And all of a sudden, I hear, like somebody, I hear a voice, my mother’s voice.  “Mine child, get to the window. Get to the window.” It was in my head, and I recognized it as my mother’s voice.  And I look on mineself, I says, “Look, I haven’t got mine – I haven’t got a shirt on. I haven’t got nothing on – I’m staying naked.  I’m a dead man. What the hell am I going to run in the window?” First thing right away I realize, I says, “I got to knock off this Pole.”  You know they’ve got in another room; they’ve got our clothes. So I started to lookin’ under the straw sacks, under this, and I did find a spoon, in one side, the cap from the spoon was made like a knife – so grind down, one side so sharp.  And I put this in my hand and I went over to this – it must’ve been a Pollack I believe.  And I talked to him in German.  I says, I says, “Look, I’m going to cut your belly open if you don’t give me a pair of pants.  And for him too.” I says, for the other friend. “So, two pair of pants and two jackets,” I says.  “I’m going to open up your belly right there,” I says. He says, “Man, I’m going for you now,” he says to me. ________.  “Look,” I says, “You’re not going to get caught for nobody. You got dead bodies laying over there. Bring in one and put ’em in the back, two of them.  They died; two of them died.” And that’s all it took. And he started a little, kind of – he was so scared he started shaking like a…’Cause I wasn’t fooling, I would cut his belly open.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: I says, “I got nothing left to lose.”  I told him, “Man,” I says, “if I get out, if you gonna open your mouth, there’s people from the organization,” I says, “They gonna fix you up, man, if you gonna open your mouth.”  And he gave two pair of pants and two jackets. I went to the window, opened the window, and I climbed out and I laid there and hold on to the, to the – thing came out –
PERRY: The sill, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: Came down and I went.  And behind me this little Frenchman went too, both of us.
PERRY: How, how – you said yesterday about 20 –
SCHWARTZ: About 20 – I would say around about 23 feet, that’s what I would say.
PERRY: And you hit the ground.
SCHWARTZ: I hit the ground right there just like a cat.  Fell right down the poles and not a scratch even.  Some on the hands, from the gravel a little bit. I got back to mine block and I said to the Block Schreiber, he saw me.  “Where the hell you came from?”  I says, “Doggone it, I jumped out through a window,” I says, “The malaria experiment they make over there and the rest of ’em layin’ out sick already.  ________ took me and I jumped out the window. And the guy over there, the Pfleger ________, what he was over there, on the top.  I told him, I says, “Put in two dead – two dead bodies.”  And how long he’s got to count, he’s gonna be satisfied. That’s all there is to it.  And they don’t check too much. And I says, “You know, I – I,” he shows me, I’m holding in my hand your card with the names, his card too.”  And we were both in the same kommando. And he was askin’. I says, “Look, take these doggone cards and get back over there and new papers, and don’t worry about a thing; I’m back in the block.”  See –
PERRY: He was going to use these cards and everything’s all right.
SCHWARTZ: All right, as long as you didn’t deliver yet nothing – was if you had to go over there and get ’em out, see.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: But you hadn’t delivered yet, don’t deliver it.  That’s always good. But nothing happened. He knew, I told him, “Look, my friends will come over and they will see you and you won’t have to worry about a thing.  Just keep your mouth shut and that’s all there is to it,” I told him. So he says, “All right.” He got to go vouch for this. Well, it was right there, it was already almost five o’clock and the kommandos come in, back from work.  I walked over and I told my friend over there, and the people, what they working on the, on the – by the train.
PERRY: Yeah, unloading.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, they – they had everything over there.  I says, “Look,” I says, “this is what got happened to us.  You saw it in the morning?” “I saw you standing by the gate, but what happened to you?” I says, “This is what got happened, Mengele got ahold of us, (OVERTALK) and 23 of ’em goin’ to be liquidated everyday.  And two of us escaped.” I says, I told him, I says, “Get those guys from the kommando to come over and fix this doggone ‘L.’”
PERRY: Get rid of the “L,” yeah.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, that’s the most important thing.  I says, “Later you gonna see the Schreiber and the work, see.”  So, when they pickin’ up the rations, they came over and doggone took care of me. And came in the guy, and he took me in and he told it –
PERRY: He made it better.
SCHWARTZ: I says, I told him, I says, “Turn this into a Star of David.”
PERRY: A Star of David.  So he made the “L” into  –
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, a Star of David.  So he says to forget about him.  He says, “That’s all.”
PERRY: You don’t know anything.
SCHWARTZ: “You don’t know nothing,” he says, “and God forbid that something comes out.”  He says, “They don’t care. They don’t care. They have to kill me first to findin’ out who it is.” (OVERTALK) “Well,” he says, “ I know you’re not gonna open your mouth.  You’re not a guy who’ll tell on a crime.” And he was kind of hysterical still a little bit. And he says, _____________. “You’re not gonna scare me,” I says, but shook me up a little bit, you know.
PERRY: That’s understandable.
SCHWARTZ: Shook me up so bad (LAUGHTER) that I got the diarrhea from this whole thing.  I couldn’t eat for three days. And a friend brought me over a little bit Schnapps.  And I took a couple sips and finally my stomach got settled. And I started eating again.  Before I couldn’t eat. It was going through me like –
PERRY: Like water.
SCHWARTZ: So, that’s what I had the experience with Mengele.  I got up in his clutches. And I’m sittin’ on the window Sunday after work.  Sunday the appell was 12 o’clock – maybe they hand out soup, the dinner…this was all the time for you.  We was sittin’ over there with friends. We were kind of singin’ a couple songs. We had over there guys – composers.  They had ________. They was singin’ a little songs, you know, killin’ a little time, for getting the tzurus, you know.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: I see one Russki, he’s coming by around the corner, between the building 18 and 19.  19 was already the hospital and 18 was where I was waiting on the first floor.
PERRY: Russian prisoner was that?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, Russki.
PERRY: Umhmm.
SCHWARTZ: And he’s calling out, “Schwartzwald, Schwartzwald, Schwartzwald, Schwartzwald.”  And I say, “Hey Russki, chodi seyvdah, seyvdah.”  And I take this piece of brown paper from the cement sack and I start readin’, “Brother,” I says, “I don’t believe this stuff.  My brother-in-law is here in Birkenau.”
PERRY: And he told the Russian to try to find you?
SCHWARTZ: The Russian was bringin’ in sand over there where was working.  He told him he’d found out from my _______ neighbor that I am in this main – in the big camp –
PERRY: The Russians was moving –
SCHWARTZ: You know, he says, “Go ahead.”  And he knew even, the block, even, 18, see.
PERRY: Who was that now?
PERRY: No, but who –
SCHWARTZ: My brother-in-law, my sister’s husband.  She married –
PERRY: Oh, oh, the one you said (OVERTALK)
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, he got caught. I didn’t know it.
PERRY: Yeah, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: On this piece of paper they put down he had been “Wolf Holtzman.”
PERRY: Wolf Holtzman.
SCHWARTZ: “And I am the husband from the sister.  Your father, and the sister and the baby are still home.  And I am here in Birkenau.” That’s all it said. And I teared it up. And I thanked this Russian, I said, “Hey Russki _____.”  And I hugged him a little bit. He said, “What is it?” I said, “My brother-in-law got caught in Paris, in France, and he’s here in Birkenau – my sister’s husband.  Well, I was going around that I had a poor ______ that all the sides look like. I said, “Here I got already Mengele in my head and now I got doggone to worry that my brother-in-law is here still on the top too.”  Well, some people were going to Birkenau; I told them, I says, “Go over and see him and give him something over there. Try and maybe you can give him a little better work over there or something. See what you can do for him.”  So, it didn’t came out right away, you know, to go there. I was goin’ workin’ in the crematoriums over there, fixin’ this and this crematorium, this crematorium, I was working. And all of a sudden comes out that – I hear a rumor that all the French Jews, all the Greeks, France, Holland, Belgian Jews, they goin’ to Warsaw demolishin’ the ghetto after they kill the Jews, to cleanin’ up the ruins.  “So,” I says, “what the hell can I do now?” I says, “I can do nothing.” I says – and I got kind of a little jittery too. I thought to myself, maybe I move over to Birkenau, in another camp, and stay the day; maybe somebody’s going to stop. I had so much worry. So, a little worry, and I make arrangements, my friends make arrangements. This kommando what I was working, they going to be transferred over, see.
PERRY: Over to?
SCHWARTZ: Birkenau.
PERRY: Birkenau, permanently.
SCHWARTZ: Permanently.  I says, “Well, I hope this is happenin’ to me soon.”  One morning I arrive, and all of a sudden they call my number out.  And he says, “You, don’t go out to work. Stay over here.” That’s the Schreiber, and he says to me, what the heck I did now?  I says, “I don’t know.” He says, “They promised to beat me over there to the front over there to the gate.”
SCHWARTZ: That’s what they told him.  And I – he took me and I was found and went over there in that block and there were women…

Tape 3 - Side 2 (Perry)

PERRY: This is Tape 3, Side B.  This is the story as told by Herman Schwartz.  You saw these ladies with a neglige.
SCHWARTZ: And I didn’t know what was goes on in this block.  They was standing on the steps and lookin’ down. Nobody to tell me that they had a whorehouse in Auschwitz. (LAUGHTER)
PERRY: A whorehouse in Auschwitz.
SCHWARTZ: Was nobody to tell me this.  Finally I says – and one guy was there, a German, he started to whistlin’.
PERRY: Whistling.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  And she started – I saw, she started to spittin’.  First she was howlin’, then she was spittin’ on him.
PERRY: Spitting, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: She said, “You swine,” she was calling on him.  And I – I said to myself, I says, “I don’t know.  I never heard this doggone thing in Auschwitz. There really a whorehouse too.”  Right there by the gates, on your left side, on the top. Downstairs – downstairs was living the orchestra, see, the orchestra people, and on the top was the whorehouse.
PERRY: And who were the clients?
SCHWARTZ: The clients was the green, uh…Germans with the green triangles, such as the criminal element, the German criminal element.
PERRY: How about the Polish criminals?
SCHWARTZ: Some, some, some of ’em Poles went over there too.  Later I found out. They even offered me a coupon to go over there too and I told them to go to hell.
PERRY: Yeah, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: But the only thing I find out, there was no Jewish girls over there, see.  There was nothing but German – German, Ukraine, a couple – a couple French, French girls was there.  Oh, they had about 25 or 30 of ’em there.
PERRY: These were girls they brought in –
SCHWARTZ: From the women’s camp.  They took them out.
PERRY: Umhmm, so they were –
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, that’s what they had over there.  I didn’t know they got this whorehouse in Auschwitz.
I was standing over there for a few minutes and all of a sudden I see, you know, the whole kommando what I used to work with them, the BBD – BBD came along.  They marched like that all the way to Birkenau, you see. They got transferred. I says, “Well, we are leaving.” I got into Birkenau and I start to askin’ about my brother-in-law, and one guy is telling me he is in Auschwitz.  See, he went with the transport. He told me the number, 102, 300 and something, you know. And that’s was his number.  I says, “What is the use of going and asking questions when he is in Auschwitz.” And I was in Birkenau, and we was still doing – you know, this was 1943 in the summertime in – all of us…we had a job in crematorium one.  It was one single door in this big room where the people was undressing and the job was takin’ this door out and puttin’ in a double door, like some firms you got double doors.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: So, we got in over there, we knocked out the whole door.  And all of a sudden comes the SS man, he says, “Heraus von hier!  Alle heraus! Alle heraus! Alle heraus!”  “Uh oh,” I said, “a transport is coming in; that’s the reason.  That’s the reason they run us out of here.” And he took some boards by the door, got up the door with a couple bells (?), and a couple horses ________.  It didn’t take long, all of a sudden I see the people comin’ in with the trucks. ________ some of them, the rest of them. I says, “All right, there must be a transport.  There must be a transport from someplace in France, in Belgium, or something.” Well, they kept us right there in one corner over there, away, oh, about 400 feet away from this building, in the corner.  We were sitting there. One Jewish – a Jewish boy was sittin’ there cryin’. I says, “Why you crying? You didn’t see nothing yet. You’ve been in Auschwitz how long?” He says, “Seven months.” I says, “Man, you crying now?  That’s not gonna help you nothing.” _______ and that’s all there is to it. I says, “I don’t know if he’s gonna be alive if he keeps this crying.” Finally I quieted him down.
And an hour later I see a picture I didn’t believe my own eyes, see.  I didn’t believe my own eyes what I saw. To go down into this undressing room, to go down a couple stairs; I think steps was there.  I remember this when I went down, we were fixin’ over there something, walks out a pretty woman, blonde, young woman – she was about 25, 26, 27 years old, about 27 years old I would say.  She walks out naked. Mengele walks on one side. And I don’t know the other one. I didn’t recognize him; he had this jacket on, see. He was holding a cane in his hand. And I know his cane had a – had like a pin in the bottom, long, was sharp like a needle.  And I heard all of a sudden, I heard, “Ich bin eine Juden, ich bin eine Juden, ich bin eine Juden.”  “I’m Jewish, I’m Jewish, I’m Jewish,” she was howling.  We was sitting and looking on this thing what goes on over there.  And all of a sudden, all of a sudden I see Mengele took the cane – and I’m trying to figure out what you call it – by this handle?
PERRY: Handle, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: He was trying to wrap it around her…
PERRY: Her neck.
SCHWARTZ: Her neck.  He was trying to pull it close to it.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: And she took him, boy, and let him have a left, threw him a left, right there in the doggone thing.  He staggered – he staggered back about two feet. The other one grabbed his – kicked her and he knocked her down.  He knocked her down, and I saw it with my own eyes, Mengele grabbed a leg, and took the cane and right in, right in, right in…
PERRY: Her vagina?
SCHWARTZ: The whole cane went in – with the, with the pin in the –
PERRY: With a pin in it.
SCHWARTZ: In the end, you know, just like a needle.  I heard her screaming. We heard the screaming; we was sitting away in the corner over there.  We heard her scream and that was all of it. And after awhile he was laughing; both of them was laughing – so high; we could hear.  And later he pulled out the cane. He put the cane against the wall. And he went down over there in the – down, back over there to the transport.
Well, the transport – I knew what was going to happen.  They gassed them. I heard a little bit screaming later on and this was all open, you know.  It was about, oh, I would say about 1500, 1800 people, 2,000 people. Some children, women, even girls.  But this woman, a beauty, I never saw a woman with blue eyes – a Jewish woman, blonde and blue eyes. And he was howlin’ – he must have asked her what you are, a this – and she was howling, (OVERTALK) “I’m Jewish, I’m Jewish, and I’m Jude, I’m Jude.”  That’s what I heard, you know.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: (SIGHS) Well, she was layin’ like this ________ and all of a sudden he came up, “Hey.”  He makes with the hand and so I don’t know, but he wasn’t speaking German, I probably didn’t know it.  He says, “Take this…take this asloch and…”
PERRY: Asloch?
SCHWARTZ: Asloch – it means the ______.  Asloch, asloch, _____, an ________ they call in German, asloch
SCHWARTZ: So he tells me, “Take this asloch and these – these, what you call it, wheelbarrow, and roll around over there.  Around to the side, to the ovens.”
PERRY: Sure, to burn.
SCHWARTZ: So I grabbed her, and she was still something mumbling,mumbling or something; she was mumbling something.  She was not dead yet. She was mumbling something, but I saw she was a little blood –
PERRY: Sure, oh, she was bleeding to death.
SCHWARTZ: I was holding the hand; I wrapped it right over here.  And I was feelin’ the pulse was almost goin’. And I knocked on the door.  I rolled her over, I knocked on the door, and a Jewish man was there (UNCLEAR).  He says to me, “Leave her here; we’ll take care of it.” After he comes out, he says to me, he asks me what’s going to happen.  What happened – he didn’t know it. He was inside, you know.
PERRY: Sure, he didn’t see all this.
SCHWARTZ: It shows you, it shows you what does man gotta – was doin’.  I heard stories about Mengele. He was – he had one time a bunch of midgets, you know, they round up from transports.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: And all of a sudden they stop – they was ridin’ around with him in convertible, dressing them up like dolls, and all of a sudden they stop the convertible by the road and tell them to get out, and took the gun and killed them all right there, see.  That’s kind of sadist he was, Mengele; that’s what he was.
PERRY: Yeah, well you saw him in action.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I saw him in action.  So, well, after this I wasn’t surprised anything can happen with Mengele.  You can – you never know what’s gonna happen, see. So, a couple weeks later, and all of a sudden one morning, I’m trying to get up and boy I started to get the chills.  And the malaria hit me two months later.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: And boy I had, I had a broken bone(?).  I was in for somebody, found my friend, and he came and they make arrangements with room service.  They says, “You keep him covered up. And we will see what we needed.” And chinine.  I don’t know what this chinine, or something, medicine…
PERRY: Quinine.
SCHWARTZ: Quinine.
PERRY: Quinine.
SCHWARTZ: Chinine we called it, quinine.  They says, “We gonna try to get some quinine.”  And so they brought me over something, I don’t know what.  But it took a week, two, I got up and stuff, a week.
PERRY: And who covered for you?
SCHWARTZ: A room service, each block had room service.
PERRY: I see.
SCHWARTZ: An orderly, what they used to (OVERTALK) And he covered me up.  He was covering for me. He took my rations, and he took everything by himself.  I couldn’t eat nothing.
PERRY: Right.  You couldn’t eat anything.
SCHWARTZ: I couldn’t eat nothing, and they was bringin’ me something, only a little soup, and he was covering and shook it, and that’s something I could drink. But he brought me plenty of water.
PERRY: Which you needed.
SCHWARTZ: A cup, a little bottle, they called it a mokka, you know it was not coffee.  It was sweetened with a little saccharine, and that’s what I was drinking.
In – like that one, sometime, my mother – again, my dear mother, she be rest in peace –looked like she didn’t rest.  In the same night, a couple nights later, my mother came. She says, “My child,” you know she says to me in Jewish, “My child, you take this and drink it.  Drink all of it.” She left me a big bottle, and I drank it. Next morning I opened mine eyes. I was so weak, but the fever was gone –
PERRY: The fever was gone; it was broken.
SCHWARTZ: Broken.  Now I called and my friend came over and he says, “Herman, only one way we can heal.  We got to get you out from this block, see. And they maked arrangements for you, you goin’ in over there and – excuse me one second. (TAPE STOPS) So, he said to me, “We got to get out from this building because it’s getting kind of suspicious a little bit and the room service is getting a little jittery.  He’s getting a little scared already. So let me tell you, if they catch you in in the morning, they will get you and ____. Before they move out to work, they gonna take you right there in this Block 13 where the Sonderkommando is.” You know, those guys with –
PERRY: Yeah, the Sonderkommando, right.
SCHWARTZ: The guys what were working by the gassing and by the crematorium.  He says, “They workin’ day and night. They got a night shift and a day shift and we gonna lead right over there and you gonna hide yourself.  We got to keep you away for a week.” I got a couple friends over there. I got in and I says, “This time they givin’ me a little bit food, and this and that.”  And everyday they was bringing in me something that I can eat. Even I got a piece of chocolate one day. And he brought me from the transport. And, uh, little by little, it took me a week or 10 days, I recuperated and I went back to work, see.  And back to work already, I didn’t do nothing, not heavy work. I was just kind of – I had to – it took me a little time to buildin’ myself back up. My friends didn’t let me down. They brought me, they pushed to me doggone everything they could get hold.  Their own little soup, even, they pushed to me in the barrack. And that was 1943 – 4 already. All of a sudden comes around rumors that – that they got, a couple months before one man. His name was Cheslov. He was born in Warsaw; he came to the ghetto to Plonsk.  He married a girl, a Plonsker girl, and then he came with the last transport from Plonsk that came to Auschwitz. He was lucky; he got a good job as a Blockschreiber.  In…that was in 1943, he escaped from Auschwitz.
PERRY: I didn’t think anybody escaped from Auschwitz.
SCHWARTZ: He actually escaped.  He got back to Czechoslovakia.  He got tellin’ the Jews was left over still over there in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the Jews, and he showed them the pictures from Auschwitz and everything.  And he made it in to Czechoslovakia. One guy said he made it as an SS man; he was lookin’ like a Pollack, blonde.  Nobody could say he’s a Jew, see.  So, like ________, a year later, that was in 1944, when the transports from Hungary came in already.  The Jews from Hungary came in already. All of a sudden, I got a little – somebody came over to me, whispers to me, “You know what?  We got over here a little calamity going for us,” he says. “You know, Cheslov,”
PERRY: He’s back again.
SCHWARTZ: He’s back, he’s back here in Birkenau.
PERRY: That’s how you found out about the rest of this story, isn’t it?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, and I says, “Who?”  And he says, “Oh you remember, he escaped the year before.  He went to – he got to Czechoslovakia. He showed the Jews the pictures from Auschwitz and everything, and they wouldn’t believe it.”  And now, he was around there someplace, and he was right over there, and they caught him, him with his wife. What he did, right in the car, he cut his number with a razor blade a little bit. (UNCLEAR)
PERRY: Disguised himself.
SCHWARTZ: Disguised himself a little bit.  And he got – he got through with the selection over there – who’s going to death and who’s going to camp.  He was a young man; they took him to camp, see. So he got in this building, and they give him a bed, and they shavin’ him and they givin’ him the clothes.  He recognized a couple guys from Plonsk, and I was working over there, see. And he had to trust somebody. So he tellin’, he says, “Tell him the story.” I says, “I am so-and-so,” I says, “I try to help you, man.  You know, we have to keep…” He says, “Well, don’t worry about it. I have to go through the process over here.”
PERRY: First he’ll be processed, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, and a different name, a different name, he tellin’ them.  He still has to showin’ them the arm that the two of them over here (UNCLEAR) and he showed them the arm, and gave him the number.  And I says, “Well, you came all the way over here to be…” Somebody whispered to me, he says, “Look.” I says, “So-and-so is back. And he is over there in the quarantine camp, right over there, you see.”  Oh, I took a bucket and filled with sand and a couple bricks, you know, and I took the tools and quickly, me and a man, I believe that this was David; he is in St. Paul, Minnesota. I forgot the other name.  He was in the Plonsk, in the ghetto. I says, “David,” I says, “we goin’ over there.” I had to trust him, to tell him what this is.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: And I says, “Yeah, I goin’ with you.  Don’t worry about it.” We got in, I says, “Who we looking for?”  I didn’t know the name. And finally he says, “I’m going to recognize him.  That’s all there is to it.” He’ll recognize him. So we got in over there in this barrack.  It was kind of a little bit around about, oh, in the afternoon. And I start to callin’, “Cheslov,” you know, and see one guy sticks out his head over the bunk.  He was laying on the top bunk and he sticks out his head. He says, “Who you?” I says, “I’m lookin’ for a guy.” I look down; he’s blonde, and I says, “It’s you…”
PERRY: He must be it.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I says, “You Am Kol Yisrael?”  And he says, “Yeah.”
PERRY: Am Kol Yisrael.
PERRY: What –
SCHWARTZ: Am Kol Yisrael.  You know, he says, “Yeah.”  “Du bist gewesen.  You were in Plonsk, don’t you, in the ghetto.”  He says, “Yeah,” he’s askin’ me, “Who are you?” I says, “You remember me too.”  I says, “I was from the ________ what they sent away from Plonsk. You remember, the 24 Jews?”  “Ohh, sure I remember.” I says, “What has happened to you?” He says, “There was a round-up.”
PERRY: Got caught.
SCHWARTZ: He got caught, and that’s all there is to it.  I says, “Well,” I says, “and somebody knows already here that you was ________ so we hear around.
PERRY: Nobody knew that he was there.
SCHWARTZ: No, I says, “You can tell them that I’m a cousin of yours, that’s all.  Tell them that I’m a cousin.”
PERRY: Cousin, yeah, that you’re related.
SCHWARTZ: Cousin, that’s all.  He says, “Yeah, that’s the only thing we have to tell them.”  I says, “Who you got more in the camp?” He says, “My wife is over there in the women’s camp, you know, in quarantine over there…” I says, “Well, you can go right away, but I took with me a razor blade, a ______, I had a little surgical tape like you had, a white piece.”  I says, “How about this number?” And he says, “I cut it on the train, I cut it, and I’m still bleeding.” I says, “I got a little iodine. Let’s put it on.” And I put the little tape on it and didn’t tell nobody. We did it in the evening when it was dark. Doing it, and the first transport was coming in.  The Germans – the little – they asking for 100 men or 200 men from the little factory or something. They was coming around, Germans, looking for inmates for slave labor. I says, “Well,” I says, “you just volunteer and get out from over here. That’s what I think.” So he told me to go over there to his wife.  And he give me the number from the house(?) where he was cut.  That is my signal. I said, “What’s her name?  I got to have that.” (LAUGHTER) He told me the name, what is the name, you know.  I got the name, Sarah, or something like this, a Czech name. I went over; I ________ in the women’s camp, over there in the quarantine.  And I start looking from the last transport. I ask somebody. I says, “Where is from the last transport, the women? From Czechoslovakia.  They showed me right over there, you know, on those bunks. And I called this name and I see one girl sticks her head out. And she looks down and she says – I says, “Your name is this?”  She says, “Yeah.” And I says, “You remember this number 689…or something like this.” She says, “Yeah, come on up.” I told her, I says, “Look, your husband is all right. He’s been taken care of already and trying to get him out.  And you don’t say nothing.” That’s all. And she says, “When he is getting out from over here?” I says, “I don’t know. It’s gonna take a couple days when the first transport, he’s getting out.” See, we tried and we find out what kinds of transports were coming and we give him a signal.
PERRY: Yeah, so he knows when to volunteer.
SCHWARTZ: When to volunteer to get out.  It took a couple days and through the wire, through the barbed wire, we tell him.  We make a number for him so he will know transport so-and-so, he is going someplace in Germany, in a little factory where they are making something – I don’t know what.  And the Germans came in and took him and brought him into our camp and they was walking – he was sitting by the table. And everybody was walking around him. And cheap labor was there, a dime a dozen.  He picked him out, and he got out from Auschwitz. He’s still alive today in Czechoslovakia.
PERRY: Did his wife survive?
SCHWARTZ: Oh yeah.  So that’s what we saved, at least something we saved.  What he did was cut it, and if somebody would insist on it, they would hang him right away.
PERRY: Yeah, he was an escaped prisoner.
SCHWARTZ: Right away they would hang him, certainly.
PERRY: In front of everybody as an example.
SCHWARTZ: Everybody, that’s right.  Well, that’s was already around 1944, and the transports started coming in.  In 1944 the Hungarian Jews started coming in. And they killed them so brutally.  And we saw the end of it, and then everybody was asking the question, “I’m afraid now is coming our turn.”
PERRY: Everybody else was…
SCHWARTZ: Yes, I thought that everybody – that there’s not a Jew left over in the whole world, see.  Only Switzerland and England. I don’t know if they got Jews in Spain and Portugal, I don’t know, see, there’s a doggone hole in my ______ already in this thing.  So, and I said, “Well, I got to get doggone in and see in order to get the transport comin’ in. I want to find out something.”
PERRY: You want to find out what’s happening on the outside.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, so I didn’t went into this kommando anymore. I says, “I’m going with the Disinfektion.”  You know, they had a Disinfektionkommando; they had a big, a big wooden barrel on wheels and people was dragging this, disinfecting those cars after the people was in it.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: I knew this kapo from this kommando.  He says, “Herman, come on.” He says, “You don’t have to do nothing,” he says, “you just come on with me.”  So, we got over there one – and we were doing this kind of work and I was finding out how many people. And all of a sudden, I see transport coming in (PROBLEM WITH TAPE) And I was not, I was not concerned.  I saw what is happen. After the uprising in Warsaw I knew sooner or later that the Nazis will bring in, rather the SS will load up trainloads of those Poles what they survived the uprising. And they will bring them into Auschwitz.  I wasn’t a puppet, I knew it’s going to happen. But it got happen. The end of August was it, the beginning of September, I remember, one transport came in, was nothing but women with young – with young girls, some of them 10 years old, even nine years old.  And some of them was even little children, holding hands, see, nothing but females. A day later came in another transport, men and boys. They marched them off right away without even letting them in the camp, without giving them a number. They went right away up, and they went to heaven just like the rest of them.  Didn’t surprise me; I knew it’s going to happen because the Poles was the second ________ right behind the Jews. I says, “God have mercy,” I says – “man.” I don’t know if I should put this in, even. Do you think it’s all right?
PERRY: Yeah, sure.
SCHWARTZ: So, I saw what got happen.  They taught this Hitler only wants the Jews only but doggone look like they was the second on the list.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: They got the medicine too, you know.  And later I had another little bitty, nice little medicine before the fall.  All of a sudden we are in the camp and they say, “Well, Kommando, Disinfektionskommando, eintreten.”  Disinfection kommando…well, they run everybody, run.  We came out on the new ramp already, between the camps.  They build up – I believe you saw it on television. There’s the new –
PERRY: Right, right.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, right over there we were standing with the disinfectant and the wooden barrel.  We wait, wait another hour, and I says, “What the hell did they want us here for?” I says, “Something is gonna happen over here, I know.”  All of a sudden we see the engine puffing. The engine starts to puff-puff and comes in, and we see only three cars, three freight cars only.  About 25 SS mens was there with machine guns and we says, “What kind of cargo is here?”
PERRY: Why are they so different than everyone else…
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, well, it didn’t took me to look to find it out.  They opened the doors and God have mercy – boy, my heart, I’m telling you, it truly start to heal up in all years.
PERRY: Who was this, this time?
SCHWARTZ: Those black uniforms – those Ukrainians with the Latvians, with the doggone, what they was killing the Jews in the ghettos, cleaning out the ghettos, you know, about 350 of them packed into the three cars.
PERRY: So it was their turn.
SCHWARTZ: But they had rifles in there.  I says, “Well, what-”
PERRY: The Ukrainians had rifles?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah they had rifles, but they had no bullets.  The SS men ring out the call, “Stock up your rifles.  Stock up your rifles so high.” Everybody falls in. “Look where the hell you goin’ now, crematorium number two, man.”  They marched in straight doggone in crematorium two. They singed a song even. They didn’t know where the hell they goin’, see.  I says, I says, “Oh God.” I says, “Well, look over here.” My heart is healin’ up. Every bone now is growing already on me. I says, “I don’t know,” I says, “ Now I want to live now.  Now I see maybe the end is coming,” I says, “and I want to live,” I says. That’s what, and after they got them out from the rifles, from the cars, we cleaned out the cars, sprayed it out, and the engine went back, and the rifles was staying over there.  Comes over an SS man. He says, “When the truck gets around over here, put the rifles stacked around,” you know, 350 of them we counted.

Tape 4 - Side 1 (Perry)

PERRY: Tape number four, side a, the narrator is Herman Schwartz.  The interviewer is Eli Perry. The date is 2-24-85.
SCHWARTZ: Well, after this episode that I saw, they got through with the Ukrainians, with the Latvians, and with those black uniform killers.  And I said, “Well, the end must be pretty close.” We knew it, that the Russians already crossed the Polish government; they are already by the big river, Vistula, right over there.  And a couple days later all of a sudden all the Poles in Auschwitz came over to Birkenau; they was getting ready to ship them out. To unloadin’ the camp, was too many people. So, all of a sudden, who I see again, my good friend, Klimchok, what I used to be with in DAW.  I says, “What is happened?” And he says, “Well, all the Poles – they’re taking out all the…early numbers, all the veterans they’re taking out now. And they’re bringing them; they’re going to put them in a transport, where I don’t know,” he said. And he came in and sit down on my top bunk bed.  We had a little breakfast. I had some a little bread with a little margarine, with a little marmalade. And we ate, and we had some little coffee I got from the kitchen, and I put in a couple saccharins.
We was talking for, oh, a couple hours.  I had just came off from the night shift.  Usually in the night was a transport and I had to clean out those cars.  And I got in, and the daytime I was sleeping. And he showed up, so I had to sit with him and was laying on the bunk on top.  He says to me, “Well, you know what?” I says, “What?” “Why don’t you take off your Jewish star, and get in in the transport with us together.  You see, get out from Auschwitz.” I says, “Look Klimchok,” I says, “I survived already that long in Auschwitz, and I takin’ a big chance if they gonna catch me now.  You know what’s gonna happen to me. And the last minute, it’s the end, almost, of ’44. How long can the war last?” I says, “If they gonna tryin’ to liquidatin’ this camp over here, Auschwitz and Birkenau, they’re gonna have to fightin’ for our life.  That’s the only way out.” He says he knows it. He did belong to the little group, you know, what the Poles used to call the underground, see. They was getting ready for this kind of a thing, in case, and they got already some SS men, they workin’ – they comin’…something happen over there in those offices by the Gestapo or – they tellin’ us right away what’s going to happen, see.  That we will know what we have to do in the last minute or cuttin’ the wires, or runnin’ in the night, or putting up a fight. So we shooked hands, we embraced each in other. He was a good Polish boy. I really liked him. And he says to me, “Well, I hope you guys are able to get out from this hell, doggone Birkenau or Auschwitz, alive too. Even if goes, means this goes back in the middle of ghetto, you goin’ in. ” And that’s was about – I believe the beginning October.
PERRY: Let me interrupt if I can, just for a second.
PERRY: It sounds like things had improved.  You were eating better; you had marmalade, and you had a little coffee.  Did things improve?
SCHWARTZ: They improved a little bit in Auschwitz.  See, when I was working over there, see, I was getting from many guys a gold ring, or a watch or something they find – always the black market was flourishing.
PERRY: I see.  So this wasn’t normal rations then.
SCHWARTZ: That wasn’t normal rations, no, no, oh no.
PERRY: (LAUGHTER) I couldn’t imagine that you were eating so well.
SCHWARTZ: No, this was not normal rations.  I was getting this from guys; a watch, was bringing two – a gold watch for two loaves of bread, with them a pound, a half a pound margarine.
PERRY: Right, right.
SCHWARTZ: Or you could get one bread with a half a salami, you know the black market was flourishing already.  In 1943 it was flourishing already, see. In ’42 you couldn’t buy, for a hundred dollars you couldn’t buy a cigarette, see.
PERRY: I see.
SCHWARTZ: See, you used to take the dollars and drown it in the toilet, see.  Not only a hundred dollars, but a thousand dollars. British pounds, you drowned everything in the toilet.  We took diamonds, three carat diamonds, we was stomping this in the mud, even.
PERRY: Sure, to conceal them.
SCHWARTZ: Not to give it to them because there was a box you had to put in everything from there…
PERRY: Well, I just wanted –
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, that’s all right.  So, we had, as a matter of fact, I had a piece of white bread, not even this German bread, you know.  I don’t know, don’t remember how I got it, but I got it see. And we embraced, me and Klimchok, and he says, “Herman, don’t worry about it,” he says, “God forbid or something, doggone the end is gonna be that close.  All you have to hide for it. We got lots of Poles still left over. Or in the night they will have to – they will find out what to do.” And the partisans was not far away already from Auschwitz, about 45, 30 miles away was some partisans already there, in the hills.  And they had strict orders to come and help us in the last minute when they were liquidating the camps. They was going to have to cuttin’ the wires and run.
PERRY: Yeah, right.
SCHWARTZ: So, he left.  I don’t know know where he went.  Nobody knew where the transport went.  And about a week later, I’m coming home from work, all of a sudden, on the – in the block where I was in the barrack the SS, “Look, Jews have an opportunity to goin’ into Germany.  Who wants to leave Auschwitz right now can sign up and leave Auschwitz, goin’ right into Germany.” I heard this, talked it over with a couple guys. We says, “Do you think it’s a fake?  Or is it real that they’re gonna take us out from here, unloading the camps already.” Well, I find out, I says, “The transport tomorrow morning is going out and they’re going to Dachau.”  Well, I says, “I’m gonna sign up.” And a bunch of guys around me, “Herman, what are you doing?” And I says, “We goin’ out from over here, from this camp, get away from those, from those big chimneys and those gas chambers.  That’s all, at least in Germany maybe they’re not doing this doggone thing, you know, what they tryin’ to do over here.” So we lined up, the whole bunch, from my hometown some in, a fellow – he’s in Israel now. And French Jews, everything.  A couple of the old-timers from Holland, what was left over. And we went and we signed up. The number, we give it to this guy, and he took it up to the front – to the front office over there by the gate. And tomorrow morning, nine o’clock, linin’ up.  They got about 1500, 1500 men. They marched us out to this old, old station, old ramp –
PERRY: The one that the people used to come in on.
SCHWARTZ: I see some cars sittin’ over there, train cars, freight cars.  And he’s ringing out, “75 to a car, 80 to a car.” Puttin’ in everybody, you know, the whole group, the bunch, whole together.  They no givin’ us nothing, no provision, nothing. One guy says, “Get a look at them.” And they supposed to get a look, and they givin’ us nothing, not a piece of bread even, nothing, not a ration.  “And you’re sure we doin’ the right?” I says, “You are skeptical already? You can still go, go back, go back, because if you don’t wanna…” Well, so I didn’t move, so everybody and the other guys, marched out from the camp.  We got around the road between the two camps, back on the ramp. And the station, jumped in in the cars, so the engine start to pullin’ us out through the city, Oswiecim, through this Auschwitz little station, you know we saw it.  I remember when I came in to Auschwitz, this little station. And we got on the track and we goin’ fast, we goin’ fast. Everyone raises heads toward the sky and says, “Man, man, man, never thought we would get out from over here alive.”  So I says, “Let’s not complain nothing yet; wait and see if anything goin’.”
So it took us three days and three nights, and all of a sudden they landin’ in Dachau.  We got in to Dachau and we went through the countryside.  We saw already in October snow was waiting already there.  Southern Germany, Dachau is near Munich.  It was snowing already in October, see. And we got into Dachau, and everybody opened up the car doors – was like little half-open and at the door was standing an SS man, with a rifle, or with a machine gun I believe.  And I looked out, and I get a look, I says, “Boy, an old face is there.” You know, I see who is there. He was Untersturmfuhrer, what’s his name – Hans Ahlmeier.  This murderer, he could kill 40 a day.  He was not scared from nothing. His conscience didn’t bother him at all; he was killing 40 people a day in Auschwitz.  I looked in and his doggone little ______, his 38 what he has I believe, I looked in many times. He was aiming right for over here, he was aiming.  Right between your eyes. So, everybody eintreten, you know, fell in, we start to marchin’ into the camp of Dachau.  We got into Dachau, got us into the barracks, and Dachau was a nice camp, was the wooden barracks, cuttin’ bricks in the front, you know, one brick in the front, and inside was the same, the same bunkbeds, only the washroom – they had a little round washroom. Like in Auschwitz you had a long basement where wassers, you know.  Well, we got in in Dachau and we stayed overnight.  The next morning everybody out from the barracks, fall in, and they give us a piece of bread, yeah.  They give us – in the night they give us the ration, and here we goin’ again. I says, “Where we goin’?”  We goin’ to the railroad station again. They put us back in the cars and we goin’ to another little camp. We got into this other camp; this was camp number one, Landsberg I believe, or Kautering, yeah, Kautering was the name of this little village.
PERRY: Kautering?
SCHWARTZ: Kautering, yeah.  And they had over there little camps and we was buildin’ over there under a forest.  We was buildin’ over there, uh, what you call it, airplanes factory.
PERRY: Yeah.
SCHWARTZ: We was building underneath, see.  So they needed all the labor, you know, and from this camp only we was working on the siding over there, where they bringing in all the cars over what with cement, and that’s…All of a sudden they got us in in a little, a camp.  They have to start off a new, building a kitchen, and they starting off a new – that’s a different story altogether. Like, you’re coming into Auschwitz and you had already an operational kitchen, and the buildings was there, build up already everything, was a whole lot easy, see.  So finally they got the kitchen organized and finally they give us, decide to give us a little soup. And me and one boy, you know he used to work, one man, he used to be from my hometown, from Plonsk. He used to be like, uh, male nurse in the Jewish hospital in the ghetto. He’s now in South America; his name is Hersh Tchervoznick.  And he used to work in Birkenau. He used to work in the bath, where he used to – the arrivals, the new arrivals, they used to shavin’ them and puttin’ on the clothes and that. And this – and all of a sudden comes – he was in my group. We was all together, you know, the two brothers from another little town.
PERRY: Were these all Jews or were there also political prisoners mixed in?
SCHWARTZ: They were Jews; they came with a transport from the ghetto.
PERRY: Yeah, but the ones that came with you were a mixture I guess.
SCHWARTZ: The ones what they came with me was a mixture – Pole and Jewish and…
PERRY: Just anybody from Auschwitz.
SCHWARTZ: Anybody, yeah.  So what they called political prisoners, the whole jail, that’s what came with me.  We came from a transport from the ghetto, see. So all of a sudden by the gate, we stayin’ over there by the kitchen, and comes in, who shows up, he was in Birkenau, Hubert Schwartz, Hauptsturmfuhrer Hubert Schwartz.  Hubert Schwartz was his name.  He was a total…And he looks in in the camp and he recognized this man, the Hersh Tchervoznick, you know. He says to him, “Hey, kapo, come over here.”  He wasn’t a kapo; he was just workin’ over there. He was wearin’ a white apron, or something like this over there. I don’t know what he was doing over there.  And, “Hey kapo, come over here. You was in Birkenau. Come join this, uh, work and so and so.” And he says, “Ja wohl.”  He says, “Wisst du wast?”  You know what?  In a month or so they buildin’ already this Entlausunganstalt.  You know what this is?
PERRY: Right, the delousing.
SCHWARTZ: That’s right.  They had baths and they delousing your clothes, and this.  “And you get together, you man,” he says, what they worked over there in Birkenau.  In a week or two they gonna take you out over there, to another lager, to camp one or – I believe one was it.  There this Anstalt is gonna be this, where this, the Entlausunganstalt is gonna be, where the whole process, where the Entauschung will go through over there, see.
So he said “ja wohl” to him and he was coming everyday.  He says, “You got ready, get yourself ready.  Have 10 men we need it, 10 good men. But you know, you know they are professionals.  I take you out from this camp and we goin’ over there.” So Hersh Tchervoznick, he came, he was with me sleeping in the same barrack.  He says to me, “You know what Chamek? Herman,” he says, “you goin’ with me this time. You goin’ with me this time. But we got to do something,” he says, “we got to have somebody with a little (PAUSE) –
PERRY: Influence.
SCHWARTZ: No, somebody had a little bit something to put a little elbow grease under the table, schmier to. (OVERTALK)
PERRY: You had to have something to bribe them with.
SCHWARTZ: Bribe them, that’s right.  So I started snooping around.  I find two brothers. They was working in the clothing stores in Birkenau.  They was not far away from my hometown, north – north from us. They survived, the two brothers, they are in, in the Bronx I believe in New York.  Their name is Mordechai and Yaakov, two brothers. And then their family name used to be Mucha – M U C H A – Mucha, used to be; they are from Mlawa.
PERRY: Mlawa?
SCHWARTZ: Mlawa, Poland.  It’s right there, more closer to the Prussian border.  So when I told them, I says, “You know, you got something what to…” And he says, “Yeah, I got 20,” he says, “in gold.  I got a 20 in gold,” he says if that’s gonna be enough. I says, “Oh yeah, we have to give it only one time. And that’s all there is to it.  If you gonna keep on giving all,” (OVERTALK)
PERRY: Nothing later…
SCHWARTZ: “Then you not gonna have nothing left over for yourself,” I said. (LAUGHTER)  He says, “Well.” And I says, “You are in.” The two brothers. And he says he got another friend Jew is – he is a tailor.  I says, “Tell him; take him along too.”
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: I said, and later we took another couple guys.  They are from Warsaw. And I says, “That’s it; this is 10 people.  That’s all.” And another guy, he is in Paris, his name was Muttak, Muttak Sarno.  He is in Paris now; he survived too. He is from our hometown, from my hometown, because – let’s see, one, two, three of us was from the same hometown, you know.  So, we got him too. And a week later, he shows up, the Hauptsturmfuhrer, the Hauptsturmfuhrer shows up by the gate.  And ask over there the guard.  He says, “Give me this guy what I talked to him the last couple days.  He was working in the – they call it in the bathhouse in Birkenau. He knows this job, and I’m going to take him over to lager, to the other camp.  So he called him and got us together.  He came back in a half an hour and we marched out from this camp.  This camp consisted of hole in the ground, and just a little roof on the top, on the ground. (LAUGHTER) That’s was the whole, that’s was the whole barracks, see.  And a piece of plank to layin’ down your body on dirt floor, and that’s all there was to it, no stove, nothing. And the barbarian winter was pretty rough, see.
So he took us in over there and there’s another camp.  We came in in another camp, you know, nothing but Hungarian Jews and a couple German criminals are there.  And I get a look on this face; I recognize right away who this was. He’s Tempel, Hauptschaufuhrer Tempel.  He was a – he was a murderer in the first degree.  He did – he could kill 50, a hundred a day without even getting, without even turning his head, see.  He was – when the French Jews went to Warsaw to demolishin’ the ghetto, he went with them. See, he was there, the Lagerfuhrer from this little camp.  Tempel was his name, what a killer.  And I get a look, he is right there. He is coming down from this number one little old camp.  I says, “Oh brother,” I says. I says, “Boy, that’s – we are again in trouble,” I says. Comes another guy says, “What you mean we are in trouble?  What is he got to do with us?” I says, “I don’t know, but I don’t like it.” I says, “When I see a murderer who can kill 50 a day, or a hundred a day without blinkin’ his eye…”
PERRY: It might be me next time.
SCHWARTZ: I know, I know I’m especially – I don’t know.  Well, all of a sudden, one morning they make us fall in.  He says, he came out, this Hauptschaufuhrer came – this Hauptschaufuhrer came by.  He had another SS man with him.  He was Hauptschaufuhrer.
PERRY: Hauptschau –
SCHWARTZ: Hauptschaufuhrer.
PERRY: Hauptschau –
SCHWARTZ: Hauptschaufuhrer, yeah.  Schaufuhrer  – Hauptschaufuhrer, like sergeant, master sergeant, that’s what it is.
PERRY: Yeah, right.
SCHWARTZ: So, and he says to him, Hauptschaufuhrer Onne was his name.  Onne, Onne, yeah. Onne, yeah, Onne they called him.  He says, “Get a look those boys. You got over here nothing but professional.”  And he says, “They worked in Birkenau, they know their job, and you don’t have to worry about it.”  So, and he says, “Look them over and talk with them.” And we started to complain in the sitting around over here and doing nothing.  Maybe we can go out and help them build this place, and pass the time. So he says, “Let me talk over with the TODT organization.”
PERRY: Yeah, the engineering.
SCHWARTZ: Engineering.  So he says, “Yeah, they can usin’ some.  But they want if somebody is a schlosser, or carpenter, or a bricklayer, can come out and help us.”  So we went all of us. We says, “Look, we are not bricklayers, we are not – we are lying.  But we can do manual work, we can do it, to get out a little bit.” We start to see how far we goin’, you know, how far away to go.  In the meantime, this Hauptschaufuhrer Onne, he says to us, “Don’t worry about a thing.”  He says, “You guys are under mine, mine responsibility now.  And I got to watch out for you.” He askin’ us, you know, “You got enough.  I came from Auschwitz too,” he says, “I was in another camp over there. I was disinfecting the clothes the old-fashioned way, with a big steam boiler,” you know, he was doing, see.  So he says, “Well.” So I said to the two brothers, I says, “Where is your 20? Come on, give me the 20. Boy, we got the person, this guy right now.” So he says, “Who wants to do this?”  And I says, “You come with me,” one brother from the two brothers, I says, “You come with me. And we goin’ to approachin’ him.” I says, “We found it. We not gonna say we got it; we found it.”   We says, “We got it in the camp now and we find a piece of – I don’t know what this.” And another one, the little brother, Mordechai says, (CHUCKLES) he says, “Hauptschaufuhrer, this must be gold.  This looks like gold.”  And he says, “Oh yeah, this is the gold.”  I says, “Ich muss das zum Hauptsturmfuhrer, Hauptsturmfuhrer Schwartz geben das, “ you know, we found it.  He was a smart guy too. He no can keep it for himself.  He got to put a little elbow grease for –
PERRY: Sure, for Schwartz.
SCHWARTZ: Schwartz, and he was stayin’ with us over here ’til the end of the war too. (LAUGHTER)  He no want to go on the Russian front.
PERRY: Right, right.
SCHWARTZ: So, he says to us, “You think you got enough food you guys?”  He says, “Come on, we goin’ to the kuche.”  And we got into the kuche.  He introduce us over there to the SS men what was in the kitchen.  He says, “That’s mine boys and I want them to have a little more food.  They comin’ from Auschwitz and they are professional people. We’re waiting here ’til this Anstalt, this building is going to be fertig, and they startin’ off to work.”  And he says, “Even you who come in over there and from time to time and havin’ your clothes and take a shower.”  “Oh ja wohl.”  So everyday we went into the kitchen, besides the ration what we got in this hole over there in the building.  We got a little – another little soup over there. He says bread he cannot give us because he got so many of this…
PERRY: It sounds like he was preparing for the end of the war.
SCHWARTZ: They all was preparing, see.  That’s the reason I sayin’ the Hungarian Jews came into Auschwitz in 1944, it was already a paradise.  Those what they came in –
PERRY: Compared to what it was, of course.
SCHWARTZ: Compared to 1942, those Germans, criminals, they couldn’t put a hand on you anymore.  They was a little skeptical already too. They heard already that the Russians are not far away; they wouldn’t put a hand on you anymore.  And other ones, they wouldn’t bother you either. So you had a pretty fair chance to survive. But the problem was Mengele. He was goin’ around and taken them left and right.  Who he saw a little bit skinny on the face, or the ribs lookin’ out, out. He took them right to the gas chambers. See, that’s was the whole problem, see, Mengele didn’t let loose yet.
So finally, around about November, the end of November, this thing started working already.  I started to put in the first fire to makin’, and heatin’ up this (OVERTALK). So, and came in this little murderer, all of a sudden I see Hans Ahlmeier is back.  This murderer he comes in, he says, he says, “Why this thing is not working already? It should be already build up steam enough already to start.” And I’m keepin’ tellin’ him that we don’t wanna make the same mistake like we made in Birkenau.  If you put too much heat on this, those bricks gonna, the mortar is gonna crack.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: And down there we gonna be in trouble like we had in Birkenau one time.  We had to rebuild this whole thing. “Oh yeah, here, yeah I remember.” I says – in the meantime, ’til I tell him this, I had, I saw – I looked in in the barrel from his 38.  He’s aiming right at me.
PERRY: Right between your eyes.
SCHWARTZ: Right between the eyes.  All of a sudden the Hauptschaufuhrer came by and says, “What’s loose, what’s loose over here?”  And I’m repeating what I told him, I says, “Oh yeah, der kerl hat mir gesagt; dass wir brauchen zu viel heat.  And they makin’ too hot.  And all of a sudden, because it’s gonna crack and everything, it has, we have to take a day or two longer but to make sure that heats up –
PERRY: Evenly.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, gradually, oh yeah.  So, we got in in this Hauptschaufuhrer Onne, he’s layin’, puttin’ us right away on the table, “Look, what I want from you guys.  Nobody is gonna say a word. You gonna live over here, a room over here, and the bunk beds is put in.”  And he took us out from the camp. He got with us in over there and he took out the best blankets and he give us a couple white linens too.
PERRY My goodness, you got…(LAUGHTER)
PERRY: You couldn’t believe it, could you.
SCHWARTZ: Like a little paradise.  I didn’t believe my own self. (LAUGHTER) I says, “What is happening around?”  He says, “You guys can let your hair growin’.” Oh, see, I says, “Oh man.” Everyone looks on the other one, what’s happenin’ over here.  Well, we was keeping going and all of a sudden they starts to bringin’ in from the other camps those guys to – well we entlaused them, we givin’ them a shower.  They came in over here on this side and they got through to this shower room and the other side, the clean side, came out the clothes, the disinfected, kill the lice…
PERRY: Right, right.
SCHWARTZ: And was goin’ on like this. Those SS men were comin’ in too, special days for the SS we had.  And one day I saw this number on their arm, and I couldn’t makin’ out what is this.
PERRY: They had a number?
PERRY: It says SS?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, right over here.
PERRY: A stencil.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, tattooed.
PERRY: Tattooed, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: And I saw this and right there I saw another one havin’ this, and I saw even mine – our son-of-a-gun (LAUGHTER) the Hauptschaufuhrer, he had it too, see.
PERRY: They all had it.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, those were the ones by the concentration camps and those were those firing squads was going around in, in, in the – after he attacked Russia they was killing lots of little towns, you know, all the Jews.
PERRY: Cleaning out the towns.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, that fast.  They had a special kommando, they called it, see.  So, I saw this, and I couldn’t makin’ out. And I start snooping around, I start to askin’, I got in the camp, was there a couple Germans.  And I said to them, I says, “What is this I see under the arm?” And he says, “Well, that is…”
PERRY: Identification.
SCHWARTZ: Identification.  People that were working with the special, Himmler’s special…

Tape 4 - Side 2 (Perry)

PERRY: 2-24-85.
SCHWARTZ: And I looked around and it looked like we was lucky.  And we had – we had a nice little kommando. The work was not too heavy, but sooner or later it was January, or February.  The air raids, you know, over Germany, not far away we saw the bombardment of Augsburg, the bombardment of Munich.  Every night they had to run in the ditches sitting right there by – on the outside they had to dig ditches in case from an air raid we had to run in.  Because the SS man what was watching us in the night, he went to this hole and so we had to follow him, see. Oh, we got in, we saw it, and some SS man came in, an older SS man, he told us, he says, “Well, the war is almost over.”  He says, “The Americans are in Augsburg already. They took this and this Pole already.” And they brought us a German paper to read and I seen my hometown is liberated; Plonsk is already liberated. Boy, the whole Poland is almost liberated.  I says, “Well, how long can it take?” And I, that’s was April, and all of a sudden –
PERRY: April ’45 of course.
SCHWARTZ: April ’45 of course, and I says, “Something is going to happen this month.”  And one of the other guys was limping and he says, “Herman, what’s going to happen?”  I says, “I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I’m afraid we’re not through yet with those guys.  We’re not through yet.” He says, “Oh, you’re always predicting a little bit, you know, on the black side.”  I says, “Well, I don’t trust them, I’m telling you plain open, I don’t trust them.” All of a sudden this SS man, Onne, he had a call, and at the beginning of April he had to go to Berlin to defend the capitol, see.  Well, we helped him packing up and he says, you know, then he start to open up and talk, he says, “Oh that crazy Hitler.” He says, “You think I’m going to make it to Berlin? Uh uh.” He says, “I’m not gonna make it to Berlin.”  He says, “The Amerikaner with the Luftwaffe and they gonna knock them.  They’re gonna tear the track open.  From here they’re going to Berlin.” He says, “Give me something,” he says, “I need it something now, something which I can live on during the win.”  I says, we told him, I says, “Don’t take any chances now.” He says, “It’s the end of the war.” I says, “Don’t try to be a hero now.” (LAUGHTER, OVERTALK) “For whom?” He says, “For this crazy?  Adolf is crazy, you see.”
PERRY: Yeah, now suddenly he becomes crazy.
SCHWARTZ: That’s all there is to it.  So I says, “What can I do?” So he shook hands with all of us.  And he took off. He brought in another little bitty doggone little German; he was a shoemaker, profession, that’s what he told us. (LAUGHTER) And he was hungry like a bull.  We was cooking a little bit on the side. We had a little bit what we was going out in the night over there to the farmers. We was stealing a little bit.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: One day, one day in the dark a guy, he had a big machete, you know.
PERRY: Machete, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: And he was trying, and he was cutting the chickens in the dark.  He was cuttin’ up so fast (LAUGHTER THROUGHOUT) that before they make a cluck, cluck, see.  So, he cut a German Shepherd dog’s head off, see. He didn’t know it. He throwin’ it in the sack.  He brought it, come back. I’m laughing still. So he brought back , there’s a couple ducks, and I’m lookin’ in the sack.  I says, “And what is this? Was a sheep or something?” And he says, “This thing was standing in the same place, so I took it and I knocked – cut his head off.”  So we had dog food for a couple days, let me tell you. (LAUGHTER BY BOTH) And this little SS man, he was licking his fingers too. He doesn’t know what this is.
PERRY: Sure, he loved it.
SCHWARTZ: We was eatin’ this too.  So with the one geese and one duck that come over there, one guy tell us, you know, he saw a Russki, a Russian, taking out the guts in the duck, cuttin’ off the head only, the neck and they cuttin’ off the legs.  And took some lines and pushed it inside, line, you know?
PERRY: Yeah, line.
SCHWARTZ: Line, and they wrapped around line all the way around the duck, and they build a hot fire and put this around, and this thing, and for an hour a really hot fire.  And all of a sudden this line was getting really red already, and all of a sudden this thing come out baked, the geese came out baked. (LAUGHTER) The fat is burned up, everything, you don’t have to do nothing.  Boy, and we had a feast on that, see. Well, that’s was going on; that’s was the month of April. And about the 27th of April all of a sudden we hear heavy artillery and “Boom, boom,” in the night.  You could hear the ground shaking. One guy says, “Boy, I wanna look, I’m afraid I’m gonna ______.  The Americans are right on our tails.” I says, “What?” I says, “Man, they gonna let you so easy off?”  I said to him, I says, “Oh no,” I says. Next Monday the 27th, he came runnin’ in, the little SS man.  He says, “Everybody picks up one blanket and take the clothes and let’s go back to the camp.”  To this camp, you know, back in the camp. Everybody is lined up already and put us, and add us to it, then we was already about 15.  We had a barber, and had a young kid; he’s in Israel, he survived. A Hungarian, a little boy, his name was uh…Kashi. Kashi was – is his name.  He’s in Israel now; he’s a father with a couple children. He’s got a construction company, see. I found out. I couldn’t see him when I was there in Israel the last time.  Young kid, he was only about 16 years old, see. We saved his neck – we saved his life all right.
And in forward march, we start to march and where we goin’, back to Dachau, 60 kilometers.  We left around about 10 o’clock and about eight o’clock in the night we were in Dachau, see 60 kilometers.  They marched us, we got in, the rain was coming down already.
PERRY: It was 16 kilometers then.
SCHWARTZ: 60 kilometers.
PERRY: 60?
PERRY: That’s 15 miles, no, no, that’s 30 miles.
SCHWARTZ: 30 miles, something like this.  We made it all right.from 10 in the morning ’til nine o’clock in the night, or eight o’clock.
PERRY: Boy, that’s fast walking.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  They was really pushing us.
PERRY: Yeah, that’s fast walking.
SCHWARTZ: We got into Dachau.  They give us in this camp, before we marched out, they give us a piece of bread.  We had a little bit provision in our pockets. We had still the leftover there, a duck.  We kept an ice box, you know where? In the sewer line, that was our refrigerator. In the sewer line we put a couple, five bricks and a piece of, of lumber and we made that this was our ice box.  Nobody could comprehend to open up a sewer line. (LAUGHTER)
PERRY: To look for that, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: To look for that, see.  We had _____ in there, even some bread we had in there.  So, we marched in, we came into Dachau, in a different way we came in.  We came in through the city of Dachau. I remember a big wide street with blocks of houses, four stories high, where the SS used to live.  And through a small little iron gate they let us in from the street, right by the end of the street was right there to goin’ in to the camp.  Well, we got in in the camp. They put us – I saw, I looked around in this camp. “Boy,” I says, “boy this camp is turned upside down. Noise, litter, everything was.”  I says, “Man, what is happening over here?” One guy says, “You don’t know?” He says, “The Americans are not far away from here. No,” he says, “they are only about 25 miles away from here.  You know, last night the artillery was hittin’ outside the fence from the camp.” I says, “What?” “Yeah,” he says, “that’s what got happened.” All of a sudden they linin’ us up again without a provision and everything, 100, used to go in the hundreds, you know.
PERRY: Groups…
SCHWARTZ: Groups in hundreds, pushed us out to the gate, I mean a death march.  We marchin’ already out from Dachau right there the same afternoon, no sleep, nothing.  We was layin’ outside on this, uh, open field and we keep on marching and marching. We getting through little villages.  And I saw what is happened, this whole thing before me was marching, a hundred, and all of a sudden this is a ______. Here goes about a 50, there 40.
PERRY: Yeah, right, everybody goes in different directions.
SCHWARTZ: Different directions.  I says, “Well,” I had those boys with me all together, what we were working in the same place.  And he says, “Well, what the hell is to do?” And I says, “Tryin’, tryin’ to movin’ and getting’ away doggone, keep on going and say the hell with this.”  And, “No,” he says, “no, they gonna catch you. They goin’ in in the little village or something, those Germans reportin’ you right away, see. Soon you gonna ask them for a piece or something, a drink of water or doggone something, they reportin’ you right away.  You can’t trust them.” So we will keep on marching. We saw the American tanks on the top, on the hill, looking down on us with the big ___. They turned us around and went another direction. They was walking around like this all around the night, you know, it started snowing.  We was eatin’ snow already. I was eatin’ snow. We were waiting and sleeping in the snow with the wet blanket, that’s what we had. A blanket got wet, and some nights they let us make a little fire, and some nights not. And all of a sudden, the last night, stopped by a big car like a Mercedes, came out a man, must be a general.  He had the lapels red. And he says to this SS man, he says, “Why you let these people layin’ on the ground over here? Take them into the next village and spread them out all over the houses. See, in each house put in about three, four of them in – forget about it.” The SS, he raised his hand and he salutes him. I saw this must be a general in the Wehrmacht, but he didn’t raise his hand.  “No,” he says, “I have to wait for further orders.”  I hear him arguing with his general, further orders. He said, “My commanding officer is way in the back over there by Bad Tolz.  And he must be over there in Bad Tolz, and he is gonna be any minute over here.” He says, “He’s coming in the morning. He must sleep on a mattress and a dry place.” And he was stayin’ outside.  “You know,” he says, and this general says to his chauffeur or adjutant, or something like this, “Tell the other to lass alle die Leute eintreten.”  And he marched us, right there into the little village, Bad Kirschen.
PERRY: Bad Kirschen?
SCHWARTZ: Bad Kirschen, Kirschen.
PERRY: Bad Kirschen, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: That’s about 25 kilometers out from Bad Tolz.  And he got – wait a second. This little village was looking the square, you know, like this, and houses all the way around.  And he was walking with the columns, he dropped off five over here, five over there, five over there, seven over there, eight over there.  Finally he got through with all of it. We got in in this house, the German woman with the two daughters. And they give us a room upstairs, and they took our pants with no underpants – we didn’t have no underpants. (LAUGHTER)  They took the pants, and they washed this out, the pants, you know. And they dry the clothes up. The next morning they give us a piece of bread with the ersatz coffee, with the make-believe coffee, see.  And we were there for a day. And I says, “Well I’m getting out doggone from here, I’m going to see where the Americans are.  There’s nothing I can I do about it; I want to be a free man. I’m not free yet.” And he says, “You go,” he says, “Herman, you go ahead and bring the Americans over here.” (LAUGHTER)
SCHWARTZ: The other boys.  He says to me, “Go bring the Americans over here.” (LAUGHTER) I says, “If you want it.”  So I got out and I walked about a half a kilometer to another corner. And all of a sudden I feel, I see, I hear doggone something is rumbling, the tanks.  I says, I start wavin’ with the hand and finally the tank’s passin’ me by. And I was surprised with the first tank, what its number was, 874. This was my number when I went into Grajevo, to the first camp.
PERRY: Right.
SCHWARTZ: Was 874, and that was the tank, 874.
PERRY: You’ll never forget that number, will you?
SCHWARTZ: And he liberated me.  The boys jumped down and they gave me a cigarette.  They says, “Man, don’t worry about a thing now. You’re a free man now.  We’re chasing the Germans now,” he says.
PERRY: But what language was he speaking to you?
SCHWARTZ: Uh, some of them was speaking German, some of them was speaking Polish.  _______, was lots of boys from the, from the 101st Airborne Division was there too, ridin’ outside on the tanks.  Later I find this out, and he says to me, “Wait ’til the whole columns get by over here, then you can go back to Bad Tolz with this street.”  And over there is the point. They told us, and directing, “Oh, we find lots of you guys over here,” he says. There was so many of us when we started out from Dachau, see, was I bet you, about 40 or 50,000 was there on the road.  Some of them was killed. Some of them was skeletons and couldn’t walk, some of them was layin’ there and just dying.
PERRY: They were just trying to get back to the camp…
SCHWARTZ: Walkin’ all over all those people, they came out from the camps.  It’s because they was layin’ everywhere. They were pushed aside from Dachau.  Dachau was liberated the 29th of April.  We was liberated the first of May, four o’clock in the morning.
PERRY: I see.
SCHWARTZ: So he’s telling me, “You go take the rest of them boys.  Go in groups.” He says, “And 20 kilometers from over here is the big fortress, the Gestapo school,” he said, “over there.  Everything is in a mountain. Only what you see in the front is a little iron gate. When you goin’ in there is a whole city built up in those mountain, see.  And over there is the point, the assembly point for all the people from concentration camps, they liberated, see. Women, men, everything is there, see.”
So we started heading back to, we took, we started going back and we got in to Bad Tolz.  And boy, they glad to see us over there, and over there was already the Joint was already – the Joint Distribution Committee was there already.  And they had a kitchen already established, and the displaced persons in. Right away they start cookin’ meals and everybody would pass by was getting bread and a hot meal and this.  And I saw trucks bringing in those people, half dead already, what they picked up on the road, laying in the ditches. And they make a little hospital right away. There was there Germans wounded, wounded Germans in this hospital and tell them to get their rear ends out from over here and fast. (TAPE STOPS) And after a big stay in Bad Tolz in this fortress, what the Germans used to call a fortress.  Well finally they says, “We’ve got to move you guys up north because north over there, Frankfurt, you know around over there in this neighborhood there are too many displaced persons, over there, you know. So they’re going to take you up over there, see.” So they load us up on the big trucks and oh, about 150 trucks, was so many over there in southern Germany from this camp, because from the whole Germany, from all the concentration camps, they was loadin’ them into Dachau, see.  And some of them in trains, still in freight cars, sealed, over there was layin’ so many of them. And some of them was already dead. They died from hunger, 10 days, 15 days riding around on the tracks until the Americans bombed them. Some of them was bombed, from the Americans too. Was a – I’ll tell you a sorry picture was right over there, to lookin’ on this.
So, they took us up to Schaffenburg, a city right there near Frankfurt.  We were there for a, oh for a week.  Came by some Jewish chaplains with their assistants and stuff, and talking to us, “How about going, working for the army?”  They can arrange this if you want; you can sign up for five years. And after five years you go home to United States, and a citizen right away.  And you don’t have to worry about a thing. So I – we accepted, and they took us into Frankfurt, and they got us into the able barracks. They filled out some papers for us, and this.  And we belong now to the half quarters of the labor supervision company, 1867, I believe this what was. I got the papers, the entlassung papers, what you call it?
PERRY: Discharge.
SCHWARTZ: Discharge papers I got from the ______ and I believe I got one paper, I believe.  And they give us an American uniform right away.
PERRY: When you say entlassung, that’s when you got – after you got out of the army?
SCHWARTZ: After I got, after I got, after 29 months.
PERRY: Oh yeah, okay.  That’s jumping ahead.
PERRY: So they gave you discharge papers.
SCHWARTZ: Discharge papers, and I says to them, I says, “Only five years?”  He says, “Yeah.” “What we gonna do in the army?” He says, “Well, we gonna do different kinds of jobs.”  He says, “Some of you who doesn’t know nothing they can clean, moppin’ floors and everything doing, kitchen duty, K.P.  I says, “Look, I can do many things. I’m – we had dry cleaners before the war. I can operate pressing – they put me in in supply room where they handin’ out the jackets and pants and underwear.
PERRY: All the clothes.
SCHWARTZ: Shoes and clothes.  So, later I see it, they putting together a machine; they had Hoffman’s machine, the press machine.  I says, “Oh, before war I was operating this.” I says, “I can doin’ this easy.” I says, “All you have to do is get a mechanic to put in this thing, they buildin’ up.”  I showed. They was needing this; they found a couple tailors, right away they was fixing for the G.I.s, shortening the pants, shortening the pants, taking in jackets. And the guys was bringing us cartons of cigarettes and boxes of chocolates and it was going on a little a black market too for things like a carton of cigarettes, we used to get 10 dollars.  And I bought it from the G.I.s. I bought it for three, or two and a half. You could make a little money on the side too. So, and it was going around. All of a sudden a Polish sergeant got acquainted with me he says, “You know what? The Germans, the German prisoner of war are building up their – their kitchen used to be, the German kitchen used to be a German barracks.  They makin’ over there a night club. After they build this up, I’m gonna take you and you gonna go work on the bars. You –
PERRY: Pour drinks?
SCHWARTZ: Pourin’ drinks and beer and everything.  I said to him, “Okay.” After three months he came in and says, “Now, it’s already now.  You’re going to be my bus boy,” he says, “come on, pick yourself out. We need a couple waiters, about 10 of them.”  So I picked out a couple good boys and got in, start off, and go through some Germans with floor shows and that. And it was kind of pleasant enough.  I says – well, well when the guys what they work in the kitchen. They had so much food left over; they took it back to the hotels for those Jews who was congregating and coming.  Right after the war the Jews were traveling back and forth, looking for brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. And they was going every night and they was looking for people; they took over a couple hotels.  And they was staying over there, but food, they had to bring their own food. So many of them, they was penniless, so the guys from the American kitchen brought over big pots and pans loaded up with pork chops and with meat.  Everything was left over in the kitchen went in the hotel and we was ____ until 11 o’clock at night, they washed out the pans. They brought them back in the morning for the next day.
Well finally later started to come down the guys from Israel, started to coming down.  Well, we had to organize, starting up a new was back in the 30s, you know, Israel was goin’ on, we got to have a land on our own.  It’s nothing we can do now, now or never. So, they heard my name. I says, “I knew Menachem Begin. I know already Menachem Begin.”  I saw it in the papers, 50,000 dollars already on his head in Israel. First I thought, I will, well, what you call, desert the Americans or discharge myself and get over and do my duty _______.  “After so much suffering,” I says, “I have to give still some more.” I says, “That’s all there is to it.” But, looked like fate had something for me in store and not to be this. All of a sudden the malaria hit me again.  So on advice from those doctors, they told me, “You’re not supposed to go to the Middle East.” They said, “Malaria is _____.” They says, “You’re not going to be good for nothing over there, not even as a fighter, not even as nothing.  You gonna be a burden.” So I says, “Well, I stay on with America; there’s nothing I can do now, “ I says. So finally I got over the malaria and I took the – what you call it – the Atabrine pills.
PERRY: Atabrine, yeah.
SCHWARTZ: Atabrine, yeah, Atabrine was it.  Was a woman doctor on the same street, down the street, a German woman doctor.  I went down over there and all of a sudden hit me. I got up in the morning and boy, I was going –
PERRY: Shaking.
SCHWARTZ: Shaking like the devil.  I recognize right away that I saw, way back in those days, the other guys what they went to the crematorium.  I says, “Oh brother,” I says, “man, man, man. Second time already. One I had it in Birkenau, you know, three months later, a few months later…” So, I took this for 10 days and finally I got this over.  I was so weak. On advice from the doctors I says, “Well, look like me, Herman Schwartz, won’t try for Israel. Me, Herman Schwartz, gonna have to go to America. That’s the only thing I know.” So by this time I met mine, uh, wife.  She came over from Poland; she survived, one from five sisters.  She showed up in Frankfurt.
PERRY: She showed up.  So you met her in Frankfurt?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  I knowed her from way back home; her father died right there by mine bed.
PERRY: Oh, so she came from your hometown.  You knew them as –
SCHWARTZ: But I didn’t know she was sick.  After the war she was liberated in Czechoslovakia.  She was in a hospital over there for three months.
PERRY: I see.
SCHWARTZ: So I didn’t know where, I didn’t see – I saw everybody already and I – besides that, they came to Frankfurt; I had a A.P.O. number.  They could write through me letters to America or whatever they want to. And I used to get the answers and hold for them, and they used to come in and pick it up from me.  See, I was their postmaster, you know. So she came in. She was telling me this story that she got an uncle, that her uncle wrote a letter to Poland, to Plonsk, and he explained everything who he is.  He changed his name over here. He used to call himself Kupitz; his name is Warshavsky now. He arrives in Ellis Island. He thought the Russians – he escaped from the Russian army – that the Russians gonna find him over here in America. (LAUGHTER)
PERRY: So he used the name Warshavsky.
SCHWARTZ: So they asked him, “What’s your name?”  He said, “Warshavsky,” in Ellis Island, and he was going by this name, his children too.  So she was writing to him, and he sended us some papers, affidavits, you know. In 1947 we registered to go to the States, both of us.  And she left – her affidavit papers came in and she left for the United States in 1948. And I saw this, I went into the captain and I told him, “Look,” I said, “I signed up for five years and I got affidavit too from a friend of my mother’s in America over here.  And my two cousins, what they survived. They had an uncle; they went already to United States too.” So I was there going around practically by myself and I says, “Well, I got to get out from this army before those five years; then I can go.” So one day I was called to the American Consul and I went through the whole question period and everything.  I went into the captain. He was from Polish ancestry too. His name was Kilbasa, Kilbasa was his name.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  His name was Kilbasa.  I got it on the recess papers, you know, see it.  Kilbasa was his name. (LAUGHTER) He says, “Well I know what you people went through.”  He was very understanding. He says, “If you want to break the contract it’s no sweat.” He says, “You can just ask me to give you a discharge.  You’re a civilian worker.” (OVERTALK) So I says, “Okay.” He make me out the papers. I picked it up two days later, was already by the Consul and I went through with flying colors.  They asked me all kinds of questions, this and this. And I was already just waiting for a number, which day to reportin’, to Butzbach, was a camp over there for those. Butzbach, mayor of Frankfurt, was a camp over there for those what they leaving for America, everyday the train goes up to Bremerhafen, see.
PERRY: How do you spell that?
SCHWARTZ: Butzbach – B U T Z B A C H – Butzbach, okay.
PERRY: So that was the departure camp.
SCHWARTZ: That was departure camp, from there, from Butzbach, they got about 500 people, the train took them into Bremerhafen.  And on the ship, that’s all is to it. And all of a sudden, after I got through the Consul, came out rumors that we got to start off all over again, new see.  That’s the Congress approved they’re going to lettin’ in United States 400,000 displaced persons.
PERRY: Yeah, I remember that.
SCHWARTZ: You remember that?
PERRY: Yes, yes.
SCHWARTZ: That was 1948, after my wife – she was lucky. She still made it under quota.
PERRY: Were you married by that time?
PERRY: You said your wife was…
SCHWARTZ: No, we married over here in the United States.  And I, uh, when I saw what is happened, I says, “Well, what can I do?  And now we’ve got to start off all over again. That’s all there is to it.”  So I was living by a German family I was living, and I didn’t want to go to a D.P. camp.  I had enough camps already in my life. (CHUCKLES) So I went, I got me a room over there by a German family.  And I wait. Well, finally they came out with this new law, 400,000 displaced persons will able to get into the United States in four, five years, something like that.  So finally they called me again to the Consul, and he says, “Boy, you back again over here?” I says, “Yeah,” I says, “I must look like unlucky. After I went here the last time, came out a new law, see, and I had to go through the whole thing.”  He says, “Well, they’re not going to take long,” he says, “we got all your records from the last interview. You just sign here on the dot and that’s all there is to it, see.” So I signed it and he says, “Now you go home and wait ’til we call you, about two weeks or so.”  And that’s was 1949, in April, they called me to the Consul and I went through it.  And later I was waiting for two weeks, and came my number.

Tape 5 - Side 1 (Perry)

PERRY: This is Tape Five, Side A.  The narrator is Herman Schwartz.  The interviewer is Eli Perry and the date is 2-24-85.
SCHWARTZ: So I packed up and I – this was already in the beginning of May, 1945, and I went to Butzbach, I believe the 12th of May.  I went, reported to Butzbach.  We were there about 45 days.
PERRY: That was 1949, you mean.
SCHWARTZ: ’49 yeah, ’49 was it already.  And they put us in in a train. And the train went all the way to Bremerhafen, Wegensachs.  That’s what they called this thing that used to be German navy barracks over there, used to be Wegensachs, the navy barracks they called it.  And we were there, they checked us over the papers again, the name and if this is all right, all the papers. They callin’ us in, so many every hour ’til we got everything straightened out.  They know they got the right people, the right men, with the pictures and everything there, see. And one day, this was the 21st of May 1949 they put us in the trains again and we had to ride for two hours from Wegensachs all the way in to Bremerhafen, right there where the ship was parked.  And right along side there was a track. We got out, every one of them, and the baggage was goin’ already before us, was loaded up already on the ship too I believe, because the baggage went there ahead of the time and us, we had only a little suitcase, things what we needed on the ship.
And we stayed, we got loaded up on the ship, and that was the 21st of May, and the afternoon, around about three o’clock the ship started moving out from Bremerhafen and we passed the English Channel later, around about eight or nine; I believe it was still daylight.  And we saw the White Cliffs of Dover and we went in and they had that first supper. I remember on the ship was liver and mashed potatoes and everybody was sittin’ down and eatin’. We went to sleep, and all of a sudden in the middle of the night over the ocean, and all of a sudden this weather got rough.  And boy, I started pumping back everything what I ate from the last – I don’t know from how many days ’til I didn’t have nothing anymore to give back. I was sick all the way, all the way, ’til almost the last night on this ocean, until we saw already New York in the night. From miles away, I believe you could see it.
I saw the Statue of Liberty and everybody makin’ the Shechecheyanu.  They says, “Thank you God for letting us stay alive ’til we reach this moment.”  And this was an emotional moment; I remember that. And everybody was tryin’ to kiss one another and so I says, “Here is the new world, and here we start off all over again.  That’s all; there’s nothing to escape.” I wasn’t afraid for a challenge. I never was afraid for a challenge. The rougher it got, healthier I get, I’m gonna punch them back.  So the ship finally docked, we got down, my two cousins what they left in 1946 for the United States, they was waiting for me with this old uncle. I remember I was on the wedding on this old uncle what he had in the States; I remember when he left, see.  I was a kid, seven years old. She came up in America, you know, she married him. Kind of a little distant mischpacha, or something like that, I don’t know.
Well, finally we got home. I was so burned, layin’ on the top of the deck on the ship.  I was lookin’ like, like….a colored man, you know. (LAUGHTER)
PERRY: You were looking like schwartz. (LAUGHTER)
SCHWARTZ: I was looking like my name, I’m telling you.  I got a picture of it; I was looking like a colored man, that’s all.  So, and I got in over here to New York. I was there in New York about a couple days.  And I took off with a plane to, TWA took me into St. Louis because my girlfriend was sick here in the hospital.  She had a – she was supposed to have a major operation on the lungs. A little bitty opening in the lungs from being beaten and from the climate, and she was spitting blood and spitting blood and spitting blood.  She was six months in the hospital and finally they took her out one side –
PERRY: The lung?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, that’s was in ’49.  And that was the end of it.
PERRY: She got that in St. Louis?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  We got married the eighth of August in the Hamilton Hotel.
PERRY: Hamilton Hotel?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, her uncle make a little wedding us.  He was the only survivor; he was the only surviving relative that she had.  I didn’t have nobody; my cousin came from New York, but he didn’t march down the aisle.  Well, right after our wedding, next morning I, mine – her uncle promised me a job in this junkyard.  I walked in the first day, boy, I cried. I didn’t know it; I says, “From nothing, and the work is so dirty.”  But mine, her, mine uncle was – he was the greatest professor what ever existed in all the universities, he told me, “Look, that is paper, that is rags, that is line, and that is cardboard.  Knock your head in the wall and I am going to Florida.”
PERRY: (LAUGHTER) It’s all in your hands.
SCHWARTZ: All in my hand, that’s what he told me.  Well, I had in my lifetime so many challenges, I says, “Herman,” I says, “you got to do it again.  It’s another challenge.”
PERRY: Sure, it’s a big one.
SCHWARTZ: It’s a big one too, on top of this.  It’s about money. And he says, “That’s is this, and that’s is this, and here is your checkbook and I am going.”  He was 75 years old then and he never took a vacation in his lifetime. He was one of the lucky ones; he went through cancer in the throat.  And he was operated –
PERRY: He survived.
SCHWARTZ: He survived, three of them went in this operation.  Two of them survived, and one didn’t do it. So he was the greatest professor ever throwed me like the challenge when I started off to professional school in 1937 and they told me, “You know how to add to 15.”  And the same challenge I was facing right now over here, the same thing.
PERRY: Started again.
SCHWARTZ: I says, “Look like something is following me,” I says, “with all the challenges in life.”  I says, “Well, but I have to do it.” Oh, I learned fast, as fast as I could. So he came back from Florida, and like somebody would want it like that, he took sick and went in the hospital.  And I was left all alone with the business again, see. I learned fast, what I didn’t know it I had to ask mine guys what they was working over there. I says if the uncle is buying this stuff.  Well, finally I started to talking to people, and they explained to me this, and explained to me this.
PERRY: And you didn’t know much English either then.
SCHWARTZ: I know a little English all right but you know this English, the, those new things was kind of strange to me.  I never heard this wreck is worth something, or paper is worth something. And here all of a sudden here is scrap metal and so many grades of the metal.  And I didn’t know from the left from the right and I says, “How you know this? And how you know this?” And finally I learned, I says, “I had to learn this so fast.”
PERRY: You had no choice.
SCHWARTZ: No choice.  Well finally I says, “I learned all right.”  I starts off to workin’ for 25 dollars a week.  I work six days a week, sometimes until eight, nine o’clock in the night, but I didn’t complain.  I says, “I got to learn.” So I learned. My uncle, he was an older man. He was getting sick all the time, like he would know it.  “Now I got somebody, and I can take it easy.” So he came out from the hospital and had to go back for another little operation, all the time something, and I was –
PERRY: Well, he was 75.
SCHWARTZ: I was only by myself.  I says, “I don’t know if I arrive and I make him sick.  Before he was all right, see.” (LAUGHTER) But we found out later no, he was not all right, he was all the time like this.  Some days he was keeping close, he was holding on until I get over here. He knew I’m coming, see. He says, “Well.” So I worked like this until I learned the business task.  Many people helped me, lots of people. I can say the American people are wonderful people.
And I, uh, in 1954 the Housing Authority took away this place.  And I was left over workin’ those guys, by then I had two children already.
PERRY: I’m sorry, what happened in ’54?
SCHWARTZ: The Housing Authority took away this place; they condemned this place.  They puttin’ up the project already.
PERRY: Oh, the Housing Development.
SCHWARTZ: Housing Development, took away over there (OVERTALK)
PERRY: They condemned this; they wanted to build…
SCHWARTZ: The houses.  So I was stayin’ in the old man’s home, in the uncle’s home, and he says, “Look, I am too old now to go lookin’ for another place.  I’m gonna go retirin’.” I says, “Well, you start to look around and see what you can find, and I will help you.” A couple months before there came through the mail a place this is for sale in south St. Louis.  I took this postal card; I wrapped it away on a shelf, someplace.
PERRY: Sure, you just forgot about it.
SCHWARTZ: Forgot about it, and all of a sudden, when I heard he got a letter from the Housing Authority that they gonna take away this place, and he says, he looks at me, “What are we gonna do now?”  I says, “Well,” I says, “I believe the mailman brought in a postal card and I put it over here.” You know, was a place over there in 2300 South Second Street in St. Louis. I look and I find this postal card, I says, “Come on, after work, let’s go take a ride.”  So we went over there. This place was still for sale. I see the owner. He wants 10,500 dollars. We got it – I bought it for 10,250 dollars. I had only in the bank what I could savin’ up all those years working, I could save up, I had only 2200 dollars. And 2250, I had to buy me a car so I’d be able to get around.  And I says, “I got left over here under 250 dollars on this thing.” And the old man give me a mortgage of 10,000 dollars. And the other people they knew it that I didn’t got no money to open the gates and I had to do a little remodeling and all that. So those people, the American people called me, Jewish people I would say, they called me, “Herman,” I used to do business with them when the old man was all the time in the hospital.  They says, “Herman, we know you not got the money, we gonna give you a couple thousand dollars.” I says, “Well, I don’t need that much. After a thousand here, two thousand there.” Well, I start off April the 19th, 1954 in a lucky minute I openin’ up the gate.  Well, I had, let’s see 10,000, about 20,000 dollars I was in debt, you know, owe people.  I start off to work, start to do business. So it took me three years; I paid off the old man, I paid off everybody, and I was on my way up already.
So, not long later, came out the same location what I was seven years later I had to leave this doggone place again.  Kosciesko Project opened up over there.
PERRY: Oh, Kosciesko.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  I was in a project again.  It looked like everywhere I go, I have project.  So I went to a good – I couldn’t compete, ration with the Housing Authority.  Already I went to, I went to a Jewish lawyer, may he rest in peace. Maybe you know him too.  His name was Harris, Alfred Harris; he was an older man.
PERRY: Alfred?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, Alfred, you don’t know him?
PERRY: Alfred, I don’t know.
SCHWARTZ: Alfred Harris, yeah, he was an older man in the city of St. Louis.  He was there on the Board – Chairman. What you call an older man? He was there…
PERRY: Chairman of the Board.
SCHWARTZ: Chairman, yeah, something like this…So he helped me out a little bit with the Housing Authority.  I got out the money what I put in this place, about I believe, about 29,000 dollars, I believe. And I was looking around for another place where I could find.  So I wind up in south St. Louis, all the way down south, 7500 South, see, I build up a nice place. This was 1962 I opened the doors over there. And I didn’t know south St. Louis, what south St. Louis was.
PERRY: Where did you live, Herman?
PERRY: Where was your own home?
SCHWARTZ: I was living on Eastgate.
PERRY: That’s south St. Louis.
SCHWARTZ: No, Eastgate is right over here to Skinker.
PERRY: Oh, okay, right, right.
SCHWARTZ: I was living on Eastgate then.
PERRY: Okay.
SCHWARTZ: South St. Louis I had my business place.  7500 South I build up a nice building, modern building with everything, a sprinkler system like what needed to be done.  I had enough scrapes with the law. (OVERTALK) I had enough of it already; I says, “I got a son, two, coming up. Maybe he wants to get in with this.”  So I put in everything what I had, what I make all those years and build it up. And I – in 1963, you know I didn’t know that south St. Louis used to be the cradle in the Bund – what you call it?
PERRY: Nazi Bund.
SCHWARTZ: Nazi party, or something.  All of a sudden in 1963, in springtime, they painted the swastikas on my doors.
PERRY: Where your yard was.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, yeah, right there where I’m still now there still.  And I says, “What the hell is happening?” I says, “It’s not enough, it’s not enough I had those Nazis during the war.  Now it looks like they found me again, you mean?” I says, “I’m not scared of them now.” I took and I went to the rabbi from Shaare Zedek, I belonged to the rabbi, what’s his name?
PERRY: Epstein.
SCHWARTZ: Rabbi Epstein, and Rabbi, another rabbi, another rabbi, he died too already.
PERRY: Asher?
SCHWARTZ: Asher, yeah.  I told him the story.  He says, “Herman, don’t make a big thing of it.  A couple days and it will go away. Take it and smear it over.”  I was not scared for the swastikas. I says, “Uh uh,” I told my wife, “Here, we are staying here.  We fight.” And that is what I says, “Herman doesn’t run anymore.” I said, “This Jew doesn’t run no more.”  So a week later start coming up those telephone rings, threatening phone calls. “You Jew, you nigger-lover.”  And this, and this – I had a couple colored boys, they worked for me. When I took it over, I had to take them with me.  “You nigger-lover, if you’re not going to turn those guys, dump them in the river.” I says, “You’re not going to be here in south St. Louis too long.”  I says, “Look,” I says, “if you want to fight, don’t threaten me over the phone. Come over and let’s fight.” I says, “If you have a car, come over here and fight.” (POUNDS ON TABLE) So they saw that I’m not the scaredy type.  After two weeks with the threatening calls, with everything, they let me go.
PERRY: They stopped bothering you.
SCHWARTZ: They stopped bothering me for awhile.  This was for awhile. So the police came by and I left the swastikas on the door stand.  I didn’t take them off.
PERRY: You didn’t put them on.
SCHWARTZ: I says, “I didn’t put them on, and I didn’t take them off.  And I’m not scared for them. I buried them,” I says. And those, those coyotes, what they put this on, I says, “Tell them to come over here, not to be cowards, and fight.”  The policeman says, “Herman, what are you going to do with them?” I says, “Take it off, smear it off with another little paint, and forget about it.” I said, “That’s enough.  If they came over, you know what you have to do.” So finally after 10 days I took off the swastikas. I smeared over with another paint, and I took them off. And a couple weeks later they start up again to bother, and other threatening calls, you know, “You Jew.”  “Look,” I says, “Don’t be like the _________ in Germany after the war. They was runnin’ like robbers.” I says, “If you wanna fight, come over here and let’s fight. Or it’s gonna be you or me. (POUNDING ON TABLE) You choose, when you gonna come over.” I says, “If you’re a coward, you better stop calling,” I says, “You better stop calling,” I says.  Finally after a week or so, of three more calls, finally it stopped altogether. I got them off of my backs, see.
Well, now I would like to takin’ and just goin’ a little back from those names what I mentioned over here in my testimony.  My friends that I had – Shai Bernstein, they shot him in 1942, Christmas 1942 when they picked him up. Somebody reported him that he sabotaged something over there in the D.A.W.  Moshe Grossman – he had a heart attack, staining and painting those windows. He had a heart attack in 1942. Yitzhak Yackov Fuchs, the rabbi’s son-in-law, he froze to death in 1943 in January.  I saw him bringing in layin’ on this pushcart and he was – he was gone already. Now I got, there was only one man left over, that is Mordechai Miller. He worked in the clothing store in Auschwitz.  And the kapo from this clothing store, he was an anti-Semite. His name was, uh, Bernard Swerchina. He was an Oberschlesien; and there was famous for the anti – to be an anti-Semite.
PERRY: Oberschlesien?
SCHWARTZ: Oberschlesien, that’s his –
PERRY: That’s his character. (OVERTALK)
SCHWARTZ: And he took him, he was the last one from my group; he throwed him out in the camp.  Took him out, he was working on the roof. He was a tailor; he was a good tailor. He was repairing those uniforms from the prisoners.  He throwed him out in the camp, and they put him in the work of dragging cement and loading cars. And he didn’t last it; he was working right there in 10 below zero, and the elements killed him.  He had double pneumonia. I was trying – I brought him some medicine I remember. But next day when I got in in the block they told me they took him in in the hospital. He couldn’t, he couldn’t, he couldn’t get down from the bed.  He was just, uh, he was almost dead, see, that’s all. They got him in in the hospital and I never saw him back. But after war, I was in Israel in 1974, and I’m walking by my car in B’nai Brak. I’m looking at pictures and I didn’t believe my own eyes.  One man, his name was Yitzhak Klein, Itzhak Klein they used to call him, I saw him in 1942 when I arrived in the camp. And from then on, from September I would say, September was it, 1942, I didn’t see him anymore. I thought he was gone too; he was around about 30 years, over 30, 35 years old when he got to Auschwitz.  And I looked at the pictures, it showed me the pictures from right after the liberation, those people took pictures. And I recognized him, that is Yitzhak Klein; he survived. He was in – he was digging coal, uh, he was mining coals in Yawishavitz. There was a mine over there where prisoners used to work, Yawishavitz. And he survived.  I saw him in this picture, and I didn’t believe it. I showed it to my wife. I ask her, “Do you know who this is?” She says, “Yeah, that’s Yitzhak Klein.” And I didn’t believe it; I thought I’m the only one, in the 25, left over.
PERRY: You say the 25, you mean…
SCHWARTZ: The group of 25 what they arrested in 1941, see.
PERRY: Oh yeah, that group.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, that group, was 24 men and one woman.  And I never saw her, you know, the day when they run us out in those cars in Auschwitz when we arrived.  I saw him, last time. And that’s was the story, and that’s was the glory of Herman Schwartz, alias Chaim Schwartzwald.
PERRY: (LAUGHTER) Let me ask you a question, you gave the fate of a number of people.  Are you still seeking anybody or –
SCHWARTZ: Well, let me put it to you this way.  I’m not seeking nobody; I know they’re all gone, those what I know.  Only thing that I know, well, my brother-in-law I find in Paris in 1945, he came back.  And the rest of them, the few that I was liberated, and the few guys what they went to South America.  Then other guys what I was in touch with, the Frenchmans, we had a nice little group in Auschwitz, you know.  Mengele took them away during those years. Mengele took them all away. I was only left over with a couple of them.  And I came to Paris in 1963; I saw a couple of them over there. And it was – well, we made a shindig over there. We got drunk, let me tell you that.  And I knew this that they are there, because mine brother-in-law told me that they survived. And all the French Jews, they went back to France, many of them.
PERRY: Sure.
SCHWARTZ: They had a reason to go back.  But I didn’t want to go back to Poland.  I didn’t want to go back to nothing anymore.  I didn’t have nobody, nothing there to goin’ back to.  And I still got a little bit what is still buried over there, but I don’t know.  Maybe – my mother, she knew where this is – maybe she took it at the last minute she took it to Auschwitz.  That’s possible too. But I never went back. And I didn’t want no part anymore of it. I says, “That’s all it is.” (TAPE STOPS)
PERRY: Herman, sometime ago you had mentioned breeding the lice with typhus which you then, in cooperation with the other Jews as well as Poles in the camp, used to give the Germans typhus, hopefully killing them.  Was that very successful? Did you ever succeed? Did that go on a long time?
SCHWARTZ: Oh yeah, it was going on, it was going on.  As you know, we showed them how to, with a piece of straw, how to fixin’ this thing to look like (OVERTALK) how to transport it.  And we also, through a doctor initially. He was a French doctor; he was in research, like I mentioned. And he told them how they could breedin’ them wholesale, by the thousands.
PERRY: Right.
SCHWARTZ: So the Poles had their own man in the SS barracks and they – many times they unloaded on them really good.
PERRY: What – did you drop it in their clothes, or…
SCHWARTZ: In the clothes, or in the bedding, and that was the end of it, see.  And that’s was spreading like fire, like wildfire, see. And usually when the SS man was getting sick, they, usually they didn’t kept him right over there on the territory of the camp.  They took him in 30 kilometers away to the city so they spread them out. Eventually they died on them. Many of them died, many of them. The Poles, they delivered them, they was cleaning the barracks over there and they sneaked them in.  And they went to other places and sneaked them in. Sometimes we even, they brought them in – the women was delivering them. They had two women in the women’s camp, was two SS women. They was killing the women wholesale. They was tryin’ to stickin’ them in for those two.
PERRY: Those two.  Did they ever succeed?
SCHWARTZ: But they didn’t have the ______.  Those two women got off. Caught after the war and they was transported to Poland and they was sentenced it to death and they hanged them in Poland.  The name, the name I believe everybody knows was an SS woman, Mandel. Mandel was her name. I don’t know her, but I saw her many times. They was hitting men even too, what they came in workin’ in the women’s camp.  I was there many times and I saw it.
PERRY: But the…
SCHWARTZ: But the lice, the lice prisoners was goin’ on –
PERRY: For a number of years.
SCHWARTZ: For a number of years it was goin’ on.  It never did cease. But this formal ______ what we worked out with the straw and we used to keep it open, if you keep it open all the time then you don’t have to sew it in your clothes.  Like with papers we was doing little bitty pockets.
PERRY: Right, right.  But were – did the Germans ever catch anybody doing that?
PERRY: That was a very, very well (OVERTALK)
SCHWARTZ: That’s was a whole secret in the Second World War in all the concentration camps.  The Germans never suspected of this, see.
PERRY: And this was done in all the camps.
SCHWARTZ: It was done in many camps I believe.  But in Auschwitz, was it widespread. I remember one time on a mission I was there, was – on one side was stayin’ homes and other side was – in the city of Auschwitz was it.  Outskirts, I would say. Was brand new houses too; the Germans build it up. And we got in over there and they fixin’ the homes – in Europe they had to clay house.
PERRY: Right, repairs.
SCHWARTZ: Only they had to do it a little bit if you want to get in the home, you shift them around a little bit and you know where the bedroom is and the first rain, the water was running in and they was cold.  They fixin’ this. So we were called to fixin’ this. We fixed it pretty good.
PERRY: You dropped the typhus.
SCHWARTZ: We dropped the typhus right in the bedding or in the clothing.  That way we could get past in. We opened those locks. We had a, one locksmith; he was a specialist.  He would open up safes. But, the last time was still, I was doing this; my last time was still 1944, in the beginning of 1944 I believe was the last thing.
PERRY: The last time.
SCHWARTZ: The last time.
PERRY: That’s an unusual thing.  I had never heard that before.
SCHWARTZ: That’s was the only secret.  I never thought that nobody is gonna open his mouths.  And they never open this. Then I read this book, I think Auschwitz, one Pole has mentioned this.  But he has mentioned this only that they breed the lice and they delivered it. That’s system they delivered this, was the system what they could get in big trouble, but they never won’t deny that the Jews had a big part in it.  And I was the only one – I don’t know if I’m the only one surviving.

Tape 5 - Side 2 (Perry)

PERRY: This is Tape Five, Side B.  The narrator is Herman Schwartz, the interviewer Eli Perry, it’s 2-24-85.
Herman, before you mentioned that songs were composed in the camps.  Could you tell me more about that?
SCHWARTZ: Well, we had in Auschwitz the biggest lyricists, composers, songwriters, originally came out from Poland.  And from Poland they went to Brussels, to Paris, and they went to all these other places, I believe for more money, for a better life for them.  I know one particular name; his name was Menzell. He used to be in the Skala Theatre in Warsaw before the war.
PERRY: The Skala?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, the Skala Theatre.  And Sundays, and after the appell was 12 o’clock, and after we got the dinner, we – many of them – we congregate outside, or the weather was bad, it was right there between the bunks in the block.  Sometimes by mine bed, sometimes somebody…Those guys can compose a song so fast.
PERRY: Very talented.
SCHWARTZ: Talented people.  They had those people, well Mengele took them all away.  But they left a few songs I still remember.
PERRY: Could you sing some of them?
SCHWARTZ: One is – one is called, “_____________” in Jewish.
Translation: The man is young; your aspirations are great
And you are looking for luck
Abandoned, forgotten is your home, your nest
Luck doesn’t return
And when old age clutches you, then do you remember
If luck did happen this way
You wander around homeless and
You need very little when I had my poor home
I want to see my home again
Where everything is was as before
There the stream, there the house
The alley also reminds me
I want to go home
My home did they burn
My home have they destroyed
Did luck happen once this way?
I wander homeless
I would not complain about every necessity
If I had my poor home again
I hear someone singing yesterday’s echo
My mother held and rocked me in her lap
How much love, how much beauty
In my mother’s poor home
I want to go home.
PERRY: Herman, you mentioned that they also composed other songs about other times too.
SCHWARTZ: That’s right.  They put up songs like every calamity what befell the Jewish people through the ages, like the Spanish In…
PERRY: Inquisition.
SCHWARTZ: Inquisition.  So one guy, in a short time he put together a little love song, a little love song was it.  They call it, “Toledo.”
PERRY: “Toledo,” like the city.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, and I will sing it. (SINGS SONG IN YIDDISH)
Translation for “Toledo” by Mendele:
On a street in Toledo, I will not forget the street.
Sits a girl – oh, one in moreno, you are beautiful.  Your eyes – deep as oceans; your eyes inflame deeply.
I hear someone singing a love song.  Oh, moreno, your voice rings that night in
Toledo.  Oh, you are beautiful, moreno.  Your voice rings that night in Toledo.
You are pretty, oh moreno; your voice rings that night in Toledo.  You are beautiful moreno.
PERRY: You said that there were even other songs and people had built up their own intellectual life and society.  And there was even a man who sang a song about –
SCHWARTZ: Hanukkah.
PERRY: About Hanukkah.  Can you remember that one?
SCHWARTZ: Well, I’m gonna tryin’.  (SINGS SONG IN YIDDISH)
Translation for “Hanukkah Song,” by Mendele:
Oy, you lovely lights
You tell precious stories
Tales, tales without end.
Jew, you have fought once
Jew, you fight today
Jew, you fight today.
Oh, you lovely lights
You have told precious stories
Tales, tales without end.
Jew, you have conquered once
Jew, you have conqured once
Jew, you have conquered, also, today.
PERRY: This concludes the interview and the narration by Herman Schwartz.

Tape 1 - Side 1 (Sternberg)

STERNBERG: This is Rabbi Robert Sternberg.  The date today is December the 11th, 1991.  And I am interviewing Herman Schwartz who is adding some material to his oral history testimony which was done in 1985.  Herman, why don’t you go ahead and get started.
SCHWARTZ: Well, my name is Herman Schwartz and at the time when I make those tapes in ’85, I forgot all about it.  And now finally Dr. Sternberg – Rabbi Sternberg is helping me out with this because it’s very important to put this on tape for future generations to know about it.
This was happened in 1942 in Auschwitz.  I met a Jew, a French Jew, he was a carpenter.  He told me a little story which he witnessed himself.  He used to go from Auschwitz to Buna. That used to be a sub-camp near the main camp, about four miles south of Auschwitz, of the main camp.  He went there every morning. One morning he was there and he saw what’s got happened. And he told me this in case, he says, he don’t live, you know, to be liberated, or he was dreaming and I was dreaming those days, about liberation.
What’s got happened, there was Jewish women from France and from Holland and Belgium.  They got so tormented by the German women, the criminals. Those German women, they were the scum of Germany, what Hitler cleaned up, and they put them away in a concentration camp.  They start off to torture the Jewish women and they couldn’t take it anymore. And finally the Jewish women, with rocks and sticks, went on those German criminal women. Well, the first day what he saw was not too bad, was so much blood spilled right over there.  But, this was not all.
The next morning, when I came into the camp, I saw what’s got happened.  I saw heads torn off, was layin’ all over this place. And finally they told me what’s got happened.  That the SS men throw over, throw over some picks and shovels and axes over the fence, and those criminals, the German women, took those axes and massacred the Jewish women.  The total was about 90, about 90 of them was dead. But over 100 was injured. They took – the injured was in the building. They throw them out through the window, through the second story.
And the Commandant came down, Hoss, you know, and he was kind of pleased that the German women, the criminals, came out victorious from this fight.  And that’s was the end of it.
Now, another episode that I’m about to tell is about a Jewish man.  He came – he came to my hometown ghetto, to Plonsk, in 1941. He was a blonde fellow, a blonde man with blue eyes.  He was lookin’ just like a German or a Pollack.  He married a Jewish girl; I used to know the family.  They used to call themselves Perlmutter. They lived – they were in the ghetto ’til they came to Auschwitz.  The transport, that’s was with the last transport, that’s was the number they had 84,000 plus. And he was kind of good-looking fellow.  The blockalteste picked him out.  He knew the German language and he’s gonna be the blockschreiber from this building; I forgot the number of this building.  He was there, approximately about a year –
STERNBERG: That was the building you were in?
SCHWARTZ: No, no, I was in building seven, and he was in another building, see.
STERNBERG: In the same complex.
SCHWARTZ: In the same complex, in Birkenau.  One day, one day looked like with the help from the Polish underground, if you call – if they called themselves an underground, there was only, just like, say, like a little club.  One Pollack was helping another Pollack to get a better working place or something like this, and that’s was all over.  That’s what I call it. Jews – Jews, they didn’t take in at all, because they was afraid that Jews can sell them out for a bowl of soup or a piece of bread, see.
But, one morning he dressed himself up underneath, over the stripes he had a civilian, a civilian suit, and he walked out from this camp and without a SS man; he was kind of like the trusted, he went to another camp over there, right there.  Next were so many camps, you know. And he disappeared. He disappeared, and he was hiding himself for three days. He was hiding himself in the – in the lumberyard, in the DAW, call it, DAW used to be Deutsche Ausrustungswerke.
STERNBERG: Deutsche what?  Could you say that again?
SCHWARTZ: Ausrustungswerke.
STERNBERG: Ausrustungs –
STERNBERG: Werke, okay.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah.  They was making over there, was…was carpenters over there, and they was making munition boxes and…
STERNBERG: They worked in the lumberyard, but they did woodworking there?  And this was part of the Auschwitz complex?
SCHWARTZ: Right, part of the Auschwitz complex.  He was hiding himself for three days. Usually when somebody escaped they had a cordon around the camp for three days, see, like 10, 15 miles away.  After the three days they pulled in, the SS pulled in the guards. After three days they couldn’t find him so he took off and he went – he went to Czechoslovakia, to Prague, see.  In Prague, he married over there another Jewish girl because his first wife was gassed. Then, I believe he was living for a couple months over there.
Finally one day, was around in the middle of the night, and they got him.  He came back on the train the second time to Ausch – to Birkenau, to Auschwitz.  He got in to Auschwitz; in the train he cut this number what he had on his left forearm.  He cut it with a razor blade; he scratched it a little bit to make it bleed and cut the skin.  And he got in over there to the place on the ramp. He was a healthy guy and they told him to go to the right.  And he got in in the camp, see. About 200 were picked out from this transport. The rest of them went all to the gas chambers.
STERNBERG: To the gas chambers.
SCHWARTZ: So when he got into this – they marched him in to cuttin’ their hair, and getting dressed, and getting the number, you know, what you call it the _________, they used to call it.  He, over there was working a Jewish boy, well from my hometown, Hersh Tchervoznick was working over there. He was there the underkapo.(?)  He walked over to him.  He had some glasses put on and nobody could recognize him.  The other guys didn’t recognize him. And he walked over to him and he told him the story and he says, “Look, try to hide me over there.  Get me another number. Look what I did, get me a piece of tape to puttin’ over here. I’m bleeding over here on the side; get me a piece of tape or a piece of, but…” And he got him in the camp, in the quarantine from the rest of the 200, 250 what they picked out the healthy guys to work.
When he came home from work, back to camp, Hersh Tchervoznick, he’s now in South America, Buenos Aires, he lived through.  He came over to me, “Herman, I haven’t got nobody to trust in.” I says, “Look, what’s got happened?” Israel Lerner, the boy what married this girl…
STERNBERG: Oh, that was his name, Israel –
SCHWARTZ: That just came to me.
STERNBERG: It just came to you.
SCHWARTZ: It came to me.  The Polish name was Cheslov.
STERNBERG: Cheslov, that’s the first name.
SCHWARTZ: That’s was the Polish name, you know, what they used to call him.  But the real Jewish name was Israel Lerner, see.
SCHWARTZ: And, uh, he told me this story.  He says, “You know what I want from you?”  He says, “Go over and get a look at him.”
STERNBERG: This is what the SS told you.
SCHWARTZ: No, Hersh Tchervoznick.
STERNBERG: Oh, okay.
SCHWARTZ: The underkapo from my hometown; he’s now in South America…He told me, “Herman,” I even got – he didn’t call me Herman; my name was Chaim.  “Chamek,” he says, “There’s no other guy I trust. Go in and look and see maybe he needs something. Or maybe he’s shaking a little bit still.  He’s on the shaky side. Make him – steady him up a little bit. Tell him” –
STERNBERG: Tell him he’s among friends?
SCHWARTZ: “He’s among friends and nobody knows, only four people – he, me, and later too the guy makin’ the number.”  Instead of making the number over here, he put the number on over here. And he says, “And soon.” In those days, the Germans was coming in in the camp and they was picking up healthy men.  Some of them was needing 50 men, 100 men, 100 prisoners, 200. They was takin’ them out from the camp in little, little factories. And maybe we can get him in this because everyday there’s a transport going out from Birkenau.  And he’s gonna be one of the lucky ones to get out. The sooner he gets out from Birkenau, nobody will recognize him and he’s kosher. So I went to look around by myself. I says, “I could go.” So I run across a young man. He was from near my hometown, ________.
STERNBERG: ______.
SCHWARTZ: _____, yeah.  He was in the Plonsk ghetto; he was too.  He says to me, “Herman, what is it?” I says, “Look, I got to tell you something that has to do, me and you only know it.”
STERNBERG: Strict confidence.
SCHWARTZ: So I told him the story.  He says, “Well, I don’t know,” he says, “I’m afraid, God forbid, that when they catch him he’s gonna talk.  I’m afraid, God forbid, that when they catch him he’s gonna talk. You know what’s gonna happen to you and me, don’t you?”  I says, “Yeah, I know what’s gonna happen. We goin’ on the – the rope around our neck. That’s all it is. But we got to help him.”  Well, he says, “Okay, I’ll go with you.” So I took a bucket – our kommando, work detail, was bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, you name it, everything was there in this 250 men, our detail, roofers, everything was there.  So I says, “You know what? You take a bucket and I take a bucket.” And I find a stick and take it on my shoulder. We looked sort of like China men. Put in a couple bricks and a little sand and we walked right over to the gate and I said I’m going to this camp over there and fixin’ something, fixin’ whatever had to be fixed.  I got – I told the kapo this. The German criminals was lookin’ over the quarantine camp. (INAUDIBLE – PROBLEMS WITH TAPE) Who this is, and what time…So he says, “Oh, yeah, you can go.” He says, “Go ahead,” he says, “Go up to the gate and report your number and you go in.” It’s only about, like from here to goin’ to the J.C.C. So I, we did this.  I give my number and he give his number and we went over there and askin’ how long this is gonna take. And so in about an hour and a half, two hours, we gonna be back. It’s right over there, the quarantine lager, the German.
And we went over there and I got in in this building.  We started off asking; I says, I didn’t want to say the real name.  I says, “Is there a Polish Jew came in with you? He’s a relation to me.  And I’m lookin’ for him.” One guy askin’ me, “What’s his name?” And I says the Polish name, Cheslov, I didn’t know their name.
SCHWARTZ: I say Cheslov, Chesik.  “Oh yeah, he’s right over there.”  So I walked over and he didn’t want to –
STERNBERG: Recognize you.
SCHWARTZ: He didn’t want – he didn’t want to say his name was Cheslov.  He started talking in Czech to me. I says, “Look,” I says, “cut out this talk.  Hersh Tchervoznick told me to come over here and talk to you. He says if you need something just tell me.  I can bring it to you.” I says, “Food I cannot help you. You getting the same rations I am getting, but the thing is, (INAUDIBLE) If you bring yourself a little late maybe or something, I can organize this in the hospital.  I can get somebody to help you.” Well, finally he started talking to me, he told me the story what got happened.
SCHWARTZ: He was married in Czechoslovakia, and I didn’t know that.  And how he got to Czechoslovakia, with some Polish people helped him. (INAUDIBLE) So he says to me, “You know what?  My wife is over there in another camp, if you can go over there in another quarantine and see if she’s there.” He give me a little password, the number from the building where he was arrested, see.  I believe it was 73, 76, something like this. Three numbers, yeah it was three numbers I believe he give me. So I went around and soon I got out from this camp and I went to the other camp. It was the same thing, I says, “I’m just gonna do it.  I’m sinked in already with one foot. I’m gonna be sinked in with two of them.” And I went in and she was layin’. I was calling by name, “Lerner, Lerner,” you know. And nobody moved. Finally came up a young girl to me. She says, “Who you looking for?”  I says, “I’m look – I’m looking for a girl; she married a Polish Jew.” And I didn’t want to say he’d escaped from Birkenau. (LIGHT LAUGHTER)
STERNBERG: Of course.
SCHWARTZ: She says that it’s this lady over there, on the top bunk.  So I looked over; she looked at me. A lady was there on the bottom.  I climbed up on the second bunk to talk to her. And I told her the number of this house, what he told me.  And she didn’t know this. She started thinking. Then she says, “Oh yeah, yeah, is my husband all right?” I says, “Yeah, he’s all right.  Don’t worry about it. And we gonna take – we gonna take care of him. But the thing is, soon he is going to see somebody comes in from the Germans lookin’ for 200, 100 people –
STERNBERG: Including between those –
SCHWARTZ: Tell him to volunteer the first one that comes through that’s leaving Birkenau.”  It was already _______ that somebody’s gonna recognize him; he never wore glasses before.  He was wearing glasses, like what you call it, you using for reading to multiply it. Well, finally after a week I saw him leave Auschwitz.  And her, we were not scared, no. She will, she will _______. We were just waiting for her to get out. Or if they transfer her to the old camp to work, “Go too,” I says ’cause she won’t be recognized.  And he was liberated, in ’45 he was liberated in someplace and what I heard after the war – I met a couple guys. They told me that he is in Czechoslovakia. He’s living over there; he lived through and he’s living in Czechoslovakia.
STERNBERG: And today’s he’s living there?
SCHWARTZ: I believe so too.
STERNBERG: You never contacted him?
SCHWARTZ: No.  I never contacted him because I haven’t had the mean, you know, and I ask, I was in Chicago one time and I ask – was there a couple of Slovaks who were Jewish.  And I ask them about it. He says, one man there says, “I know one was there between us because he came twice to Birkenau. ___________.” He says, “He could be in Prague, or he could be in Bratislava, or he could be in any place, that’s all.”  But he lived through, and he’s alive over there with his wife, see.
STERNBERG: Hmm, hmm.  It’s too bad that you never had a chance to contact him, because I bet he would like to know what happened to you.
SCHWARTZ: Well, this was a few years back and unfortunately a few years back It was around the end of 50s, and I believe there was a workforce there or something, somebody _______.  Somebody mentioned –
STERNBERG: His name.
SCHWARTZ: His name was mentioned then too; that’s the reason I know that he lived through.  But I knew it in ’45 that he lived through. Somebody came out from Czechoslovakia and told me because mostly the Czech Jews went to Israel and they went to South America.
STERNBERG: So he stayed in Czechoslovakia.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I believe so, yeah.  He stayed in Czechoslovakia; he never went back to Poland.  He never went back. And this is all of it what I know. Now, one more thing, that just came to my mind.  There are three songs what came out from Auschwitz and I know them, in the Jewish language.
STERNBERG: Ummhmm.  Why don’t we record those down, if you remember them.
SCHWARTZ: I can sing it to you, yeah.
STERNBERG: Please, please, I think it’s important.
SCHWARTZ: Those three songs was, in ’42 there was there a French Jew.  He came – he came from Belgium I believe, from Brussels. And he was a born Polish Jew, he came out from the Warsaw ghetto, see, we call it.  There used to be the ghetto, used to be the Jewish used to live. He used to know mine uncle in the drycleaning business. He used to come around.  And he was – he was, what you call it, he was in this theatre, this Jewish theatre on Lechner Street in Warsaw, in the Skala, it was the Skala Theatre was it.  And he – he was the, what you call it? The music man, and he was the lyricist.  In Poland a Jew had three, four jobs just to be able to have some employment, see.  After, in 1934 he left Poland and went to Brussels. They was looking for a Jewish – what you call it…Jewish, this Jewish theatre in Brussels, I believe they was looking for a director.  And he went to Brussels and he was living over there since 1934 ’til 1941, or ’42, until they got him into Auschwitz.
And I met him, I met him, his name was Mendele, his name.  They used to call him, in the French they used to call him Maurice, with a “c.”  And we were just like, sleeping across from each other in the same high bunks. And one day came up, one evening was it, yeah, he says, “Herman, you want to hear a nice little song?  I just put it together. Fits the doggone climate right over here in Bir – in Auschwitz.” I says, “What is it? Can’t you sing it?” He says, “Yeah.” And he singed it to me. I believe it goes, (SINGS IN YIDDISH; TRANSLATION OF SONG APPEARS EARLIER IN TRANSCRIPT) It’s beautiful lyrics.
STERNBERG: It’s very good, beautiful lyrics.  Herman, I want to ask you something about this.  Do you write Yiddish?
STERNBERG: Would you be able to write that out in Yiddish for me?
SCHWARTZ: Oh sure.
STERNBERG: I would appreciate it because it’s something that I can’t – the typist I can’t give to transcribe it, but what I would do is I would insert the Yiddish words into the testimony so that we can have a permanent record of that.  In fact, I know somebody in Jerusalem, in the Hebrew University that’s very, very interested in such things.
SCHWARTZ: _______ every year.  There used to be those questions, you know, on the high bunks.  Some days – many people was asking me, they says, “What are you doing when ______” –
STERNBERG: Yeah, Hitler.
SCHWARTZ: He’s gonna changin’ his mind and he says it’s gonna be the same thing like in Spain.  You have to accept the other religions and this we would do it and this and this. So, he came up with the little ______.  He says, “You know, I got the little _____.” I says, “You mean you put it together again?” He says, “Yeah,” to me. He says, “Well let me sing it to you.” (SINGS IN YIDDISH; TRANSLATION OF SONG APPEARS EARLIER IN TRANSCRIPT)  That’s was Auschwitz. About a year and a half later I got transferred from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
So one day, one Sunday in the afternoon, I walkin’ in the toilets over there, I believe he was in Birkenau when I got there.  He saw this toilets with the holes, about 50, and I was building those things. You know, my kommando, what you call it. Right then in back from me were two boys, and I hear them talking.  One guy says to the other one, “I know where Menachem is, Begin,” you know. I hear them talking. I used to get the _______ from the Pollacks what they used to work in the SS barracks.  Pollacks what they don’t know how to read German, they come over here to me and bring me the paper.  And I was sittin’ here Sunday or Saturday, late in the evening, sitting outside, and I was reading the papers.  So I find a little bitty thing there that Stalin send in a spy to Israel to give help.
STERNBERG: Palestine, you mean.
SCHWARTZ: Palestine.
STERNBERG: At this time it’s Palestine.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, Palestine, in the Middle East.  They was talking about the Middle East.  They mentioned Palestine. In the Middle East that this spy got a band of Communist sympathizers and they mention Begin, see.  So I started to scrub my head, I says, “Oh,” I says, “what a broke is this. Begin became a Communist?” I says. I couldn’t believe this.  So, I told them, I says –
STERNBERG: Was Begin an important person in the Betar at that time?
SCHWARTZ: Oh yeah, yeah.  He swore me in, in, when was it – in 1936, in the Irgun.
STERNBERG: Umhmm. So he was a leader in the Irgun (OVERTALK)
SCHWARTZ: He was – he was such a skinny guy.  You looked at him, you touch him, it was like a breeze ________.  He was a _______.
STERNBERG: That’s interesting.
SCHWARTZ: He had a mind – he had a mind, not just mind, he knew what’s going to happen to these people, right there in 1936.  “I should be saying this, let me tell you, we’re all going to be – gonna have to fight over here for our lives. And if God will give us a chance, if we comin’ over to Israel, we gonna have to fight with the British and with arms too.”  That’s what he said.
Zabotinsky, Zabotinsky was right; I wish they would listen to him and startin’ off to fightin’ the British right then _____. They maybe would have saved two and a half million Jews in Europe, or three million.  But, uh, you know, the Jewish Agency with Ben Gurion on the top and we got Weizmann, may they all rest in peace. He brought over the calamities from Europe. He hit the Jew in Europe over on one cheek, he turned around and hit me on the other side too, see.  And he never did raise the hand.
Finally, in ’34 the movement in Poland started off; the Jews started to learnin’ something.  The elders told us to learn the Torah, pages of Gemara ______.  I remember when I learned so much of it, that came out already for me from all the sights.  After this they didn’t told us, “You’re fighting for your survival.” That’s what they didn’t told us, no –

Tape 1 - Side 2 (Sternberg)

STERNBERG: Yeah, so you were saying –
SCHWARTZ: I was saying, they taught us – they taught us, you know, 10 pages Gemara, sit and learnin’ and learnin’, was coming out already from us, from the front and the back.  Our pain, you know you have to remember everything, bubbe metziah (?) and bubbe kamu (?) and mishnais (?) and kashrut, and what have you, everything what was there, we had to learn.  They forced us, even sometimes with a good beating too, let me tell you.  But, they no learn us one thing, to defend ourself. And the thing, ________.  Somebody hit you, you know, over the head. You had to run to the synagogue and bench, and say, “Oh God, he could have killed me,” see.  The young generation didn’t want to take this no more. They had enough of it. They revolted. So we joined, the only way out, doggone, was Betar.
Another – our elders, from the Jewish Agency, Dr. Weizmann and Ben Gurion and Shertok, and you name it, all of them, were just like British agents.  Soon you mention the word “independence” they start to shakin’, to shakin’ like a leaf. They was afraid. They was waitin’ – Ben Gurion was waitin’ for the British to hand them over, and Dr. Weizmann was waiting to hand them over Palestine.  They movin’ 60 billion, uh, uh, sterling pounds in the bank. “Here, govern yourself now, children.” The history of the nation is that everyone had to be bought. This was the only way, but our leaders didn’t want to accept this, in the _____.  He was waiting until the last minute, finally Ben Gurion changed his mind. There was still hope the English were going to have ____ on him and they gonna give him a confidence of a 60 billion pound sterling in the treasure. That’s was – that’s was in those days.
Now, I want to sing you another song, a Hanukkah song.  When I went to Birkenau I met a young, these two boys, you know, were sittin’ by me, and I told them, those two boys, and I turned around my head, I says, “You know what?  Begin is already in Israel.” He looked at me and he says, “How you know?” I says, “I know.” I showed him the paper and I told him the story that the Germans says that the British are havin’ their hands full in Palestine now.   Stalin send in some spies with this Begin, on the top, he was the top man. And he was giving the British hell in the Middle East.
Well, they was speaking to me, you know, one boy, his name was Abramchik.  He was born in Rovno, Poland.  And he came with the transport from Grodno (?), okay, 94,000, something.  So they was – they was coming to me everyday and like I was the radio or something, I had all the news.  This Abramchik, he was a little poet. I said, “Abramchik, I want a poem about this crematorium, blazing crematorium, you know.”  His ______, you couldn’t stand it, 19 years old. And he was something. It was Hanukkah, before Hanukkah, and he came to me and says, “Chaim,” he was a _____, he says, “Chaim, I’ve got something for you.”  I says, “What you got?” “I wrote a little Hanukkah song for you.”  I says, “When you finish it?  Just now you finished it?” He says, “Yeah, this week I was layin’ in the bunk and I put it together.  And that’s not only from now, this little song is going to be for 10 or 15 years later. So let me sing it to you, you know, you will hear all about it.  So I start off to sing it. (SINGS SONG IN YIDDISH; TRANSLATION APPEARS EARLIER IN TRANSCRIPT) That’s a beautiful lyric, see.
STERNBERG: Oh, and the words are very beautiful too.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, yeah, they are very (OVERTALK)
STERNBERG: It’s really positive.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, it’s like he knew right away what’s going to happen 15 or five, or six, seven years later, see.  ____________. What’s got happen to him, the last selection in barrack seven in Birkenau, it was before Purim.  Mengele pulled me, he knew that Schwartz came in the ______ lageralteste, a selection.  And he was working a roofing kommando.  It was so slippery on the roof one day in February and he started sliding down from the roof and a nail cut this open, a gash right over here.
STERNBERG: On his arm.
SCHWARTZ: On his arm.  He had a bandage around.  It was healing pretty good; he was working.  So, Mengele, he run over for Mengele and Mengele punches his hand.  ______ A Pollack takes off the bandage and Mengele looked at him, “To the left,” see.  I know he is done I was trying to bail him out with a gold watch and the Pollack said he didn’t want no gold watches________, take another dead body, pretend it’s him ____.  He didn’t want to do it even for a gold watch, an anti-Semite. And he went to the gas chamber.  This was Purim, 1944.  If he would live today, he would be a big, _____ man like – what’s his name, a Hungarian, what’s his name…
STERNBERG: You mean the one that escaped from Auschwitz?                              SCHWARTZ: No, no, the Hungarian, what’s his name.
STERNBERG: You mean the Senator ______?
SCHWARTZ: No, no, the Jewish poet, what’s his name?  Oh, man, man…he’s –
STERNBERG: Oh, you mean Wiesel, the writer, you mean.
SCHWARTZ: Wiesel, he would be like this.
STERNBERG: I can hear in the poetry of –
SCHWARTZ: _____, _____ came out from his mouth, such a sharp mind, 19 years old, you see.  That was achievable, where he was.
STERNBERG: What was his name, Abramchik?
SCHWARTZ: Abramchik.
STERNBERG: That’s all you remember of his name.
SCHWARTZ: That’s the only thing I remember from his name.  He told me from Rovno. He came out and he came with the transport.  And he was in the Grodno ghetto. He came with the Grodno people to Auschwitz, to Birkenau.  And that’s all that I know.
STERNBERG: Well Herman, this is very important and I’m so glad that you came in today and did this.
SCHWARTZ: Well, if you gonna write me down, I can write it down in Yiddish.
STERNBERG: I would like very much if you could take these three songs and write them down for me in Yiddish.
SCHWARTZ: I did one already for Rabbi…
STERNBERG: You mean Jim Goodman from…the one who plays the music?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, my son belongs over there to the temple and he told him about it.  He came out to the house; this was a few years back already. And he put it on tape, I believe, he put it down on tape.  If you want it, I can write it down.
STERNBERG: Very much so, it’s very important.
SCHWARTZ: It’s going to take a little time, you know.
STERNBERG: That’s okay, that’s okay.  I would appreciate it very, very much.  I really would.
SCHWARTZ: This Hanukkah song, let me tell you, there’s something in it…
STERNBERG: The Hanukkah song has such a soul to it.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, it’s a soul, yeah.  The same thing with the first song I was singing.  That’s the lyrics. (OVERTALK)
STERNBERG: That’s incredible.  That really is incredible.
SCHWARTZ: It used to be people over there, let me tell you, came into the camps with brilliant minds, brilliant minds came in, see, all brains.  They were _____.
STERNBERG: I know, I know.  Herman, I’m going to stop the tape now.
SCHWARTZ: I thank you very much for this.
STERNBERG: And I thank you for remembering and taking the time to come here today.
SCHWARTZ: And I’m doing this only, one thing, I want you to – the people 100 years from now who are reading these and see what we went through.
STERNBERG: Absolutely.
SCHWARTZ: And what became from our people.  But still, still we have the courage to doin’ this.
STERNBERG: Well thank you very, very much. (TAPE STOPS) Okay Herman, you’re saying that there’s something you still remember about the story from the girls, please go ahead.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, after the episode from the Bunawerke, after the Buna thing, so this was happened in 1944.  A bunch of girls from the – they work in the munitions factories.  They – somehow they got, they stole some dynamite and they brought in the camp.  And one girl in particular, her name was Rosa Roducka (?), she collected all of this – all the dynamite from them.  And she hand it over to the Sonderkommando.  The Sonderkommando was the people what they used to work by the _____ and the gas chambers.  And they blowed up the gas chamber in 1944, in July. And soon they blowed up, about 400 men got killed, what they worked in crematorium three and four.  And after this they round up the girls. It looked like somebody talked from the men, you know. They took them into the bunker and they went through a hell of a – what you call it…
SCHWARTZ: Torture, and finally one was talking and tell them the whole story what’s got happened, who give them this dynamite, and everything.  So, about 40 girls got round up and they took them into Auschwitz and only three came out. The Gestapo put them extra in into the camp, those three, those B.D.C(?), from the men, who’s coming near to him, who’s coming near to him, this that he can catch, the fish, you know.  But nobody came near to him. Those girls was nothing but skeletons and they had to work to buildin’ a road and those criminal kapos, you know, the Germans, they had – they had an order to hittin’ them and treatin’ them very bad.  So through one another German woman, we had to let them know if they be – if they be stopping beating those women. And this was already 1944, around October.
STERNBERG: Now what were the names of the three women you said?
SCHWARTZ: The name of the three women was Ella Gardiner (?) –
STERNBERG: Ella Gardiner (?).
SCHWARTZ: Kirschka (?), the second name I don’t know, and Regina.  And those was the three women what the Gestapo let go back in the camp.
STERNBERG: They survived this beating.
SCHWARTZ: They survived in the, the, bunker.  And finally, through another German woman, she was a Communist.  She had a red, a red triangle. And we told her to go to those criminal women and tell them it’s already 1944 and the war is going to be pretty soon over.  If we live through, we going to find them in Germany, we know their hometowns and we know their names.
STERNBERG: Now these 40 women were tortured.  This took place in 1944 as well?
STERNBERG: Do you remember when in 1944?
SCHWARTZ: In October.
STERNBERG: In October 1944.
SCHWARTZ: In October ’44, in October ’44 the crematoria blowed up, see, that’s the reason I know.  In – finally those German criminal women finally realized – only when an SS man was standing over them, she just pushed them a little bit; she eased up on them.  But those women was needing a little food, and in daytime we couldn’t give it to them. So in the night, in the block when they was sleeping, through a Slovakian girl what they used to have the room service in those buildings where the women was staying, sleeping.  She handed them in the night, pushed them under the blankets a piece of bread as to have a little more food so they can survive. But this didn’t help too long. Before the camp was – the 17th of January the camp was liquidated.  A week before ______ and they hanged those three girls right there by the kitchen in Birkenau, in the women’s camp.
STERNBERG: So they didn’t survive.
SCHWARTZ: The women didn’t survive, no, nobody survived, only a few Jews from another crematoria, they survived, see.
STERNBERG: So from this group nobody survived except people who knew about it, like yourself.
SCHWARTZ: Nobody survived.  Nobody survived. I – I left already in the beginning of November.  I left Birkenau for Dachau and that’s got happened around January. They hanged the women a week before the 17th of January.  And now I believe the Yad Vashem is putting up a monument to those three girls right in front in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, I believe…
STERNBERG: Okay Herman, thank you very much, and I’m going to close the tape now.

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