Published 4 July 2005
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The conditions in the camps 2

In other words, the concentration camp was complete dehumanisation. I’ll explain: we had no towels, no soap, no shoes, no toothbrushes, and no forks because we didn’t eat anything with a fork. All our wealth was a spoon that we bought from people who hadn’t been arrested, but had been gassed. So by going down (...) those who were coming with something (...) it was all collected together. So we practically had nothing.

And what we had on our feet, for some it was shoes, or else galoshes or wooden clogs. Others had to wear shoes that were recycled from people who had been gassed.
In other words, we were basically animals, and these animals were unable to wash, and had nothing to wash with. For the women it was terrible, it was worse than for the men. Me, I (...) heard, I suffered from it. I suffered but when I saw, I knew I had been arrested because I was (...) a bit like a soldier. OK, I could easily have given up it was possible that I doubted myself, but I had to take this risk.

But when I saw women and poor people, they couldn’t wash. There was absolutely no corporal hygiene that was possible, and therefore it was necessary from time to time to make use of what the weather brings in winter in Poland; which was to take snow to wash yourself in winter. That was something terrible. And the water, we couldn’t even drink it because the water in Auschwitz and Birkenau wasn’t suitable for consumption. It was water that gave you diarrhoea and dysentery. In other words, we had living conditions which aren’t normally conditions for the living, but conditions for death.