Published 4 July 2005
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The conditions in the camps 1

The conditions in the camps

I especially want to talk about the concentration camps. I want to remember and explain a couple of small things. The concentration camps were a place of dehumanisation. When a young girl, when a man arrived, the first thing they did was cut off their hair. I’ll take the young girls as an example because the majority of them were girls there. It was terrible, they would cut off the hair of the girls, the young girls. They would shave them completely, and then they would put them naked in front of the men. The men were soldiers and the S.S. So they were shaved; the behind and pubic hair was completely shaved. It was horrible. And then everyone in Auschwitz, men and women alike, were tattooed on their arms. They were given a number, and marked like they were animals. Me, I can’t show my tattoo, I’ve had it removed. So, I’ll show you what’s left, but my friend, he has it. I’ve had mine removed, burned off. I did so because I didn’t want it, in other words, I was marked, but I’m not a beast, and when I returned, I had it removed. But the majority of my friends kept theirs.

Well. When we’ve started I’ll explain about the dehumanisation, everything was dehumanised. The first time that they gave us a mess tin of soup, they didn’t give us a spoon. And after, when we had the soup, like animals, like cats and dogs, we had to take the soup “lalalala”, like that, like lapping up the soup, and we would have a mess tin between 6 people. That was the German method. And that number there, they marked it here (indicates forearm), on our trousers for the men, and the women had it on their jackets as well. And we had striped clothes, perhaps you will have seen some of them, the clothes which were for women or for men which were scavenged from the people who had been gassed. And on the backs there was a cross, and they marked “KL”, “Konzentrazien Lager”. KL. So we weren’t men anymore, we weren’t women anymore. For the Germans we were the “Stücks”. What did “Stücks” mean? We were pieces. And we were considered to be sub humans. We, in particular the Jews, but also the gypsies who were also in the camp of Birkenau, for the men and for the woman, there was absolutely no human relations to be had.