|"But as I was already 14 years old, I needed a job on my own in order to be spared."|
David (Dudi) Bergman
|One of the things that I was told is survival means the ability to work. If you could work, there was hope for survival. If you couldn't work, you were done. So mentally I had to psyche myself out that I'm adult and I could do the work, and I wanted to survive. And so, when we got there, I was still with my father. And, one of the first thing they did, is they asked for...they wanted to have people who had trades. First thing...they selected first the work groups. And then they were...uh with all others, if they couldn't fit into work, then it was back to the extermination camp. So then my father was fall...fell out of the group as a tailor. And then they said, "Bricklayers. Who's a bricklayer?" I raised my hand. "I'm a bricklayer." I never laid a brick or a stone in my life. I never even touched one. But as I was in the camp, I saw how people laid the bricks and the stones, how they mixed the cement, so I figured, "Well, I could do that." They said, "Okay. Fall in line." And they put me in the work group. And I...in the eye...their eyes, I was a professional bricklayer.|
Fritzie Weiss Fritzshall
|We needed to show that we still had strength left, to, whether it was to work or to live another day. I recall some women um were beginning as their hair grows back, they were beginning to get gray hair, and they would go and take a little piece of coal from one of the pot-bellied stoves that was in a barrack. And they would use this coal to color their hair with so that they would look a, a little younger. I mean one grayed at the age of maybe eighteen or nineteen under those conditions. And they would run...we would run in front of whoever it was that was doing the selections to show that we could survive one other day. If one had a scar, a pimple, if one didn't run fast enough, if one didn't look right for whatever reason to the particular person that was doing the selection--they would stand there with a stick, to the right or to the left, as you ran by them. One never knew if they were in the good line or the bad line. One line would go to the gas chambers, the other line would go back to the camp and to the barracks to live another day.|
|The Germans would round up a certain area of the city, take out the Jews, beat 'em up, and ship 'em someplace off. We did not know what what happened to these people, what happened to the families, because we had no contact with newspapers, radios--everything was taken away from us. So we merely existed, not in our own home anymore. As the Jewish population was getting smaller and smaller, um, the the Germans had been giving the Jews smaller quarters to live. And because they wanted them all together, they were forming what wasn't even a ghetto yet, but an area what they would dedicate it for the Jews. And they would put, like, four or five families in one apartment. So that when they need to take them out, it would be easier for them to have them all together. Well, we lived through many of those actions. And fortunately both of my parents were working. Working so that the Germans needed them. Therefore, we were spared at the beginning, because my mother as a dentist was working in a hospital and the Germans needed care. Now, my father also had a job, in the administration of the ghetto, so they also needed him. But as I was already 14 years old, I needed a job on my own in order to be spared. So I got a little job in the bank helping out. And that's how, through all these actions, we were able to somehow survive.|
|We ended up in a factory, uh, where they were making carts for, wooden carts, for their eastern front. Uh, at that point I had a very interesting job and assignment. The, the feeling was that, that to survive there, it was important to have something to do, and, and I wasn't even 10 years old. So I went to the commander, commander of the German, of that camp, and told him, asked him whether he needed an errand boy. And, uh, he looked at me, and he said, "Fine." And so basically, my, my job in that, uh, in that camp consisted of sitting outside his door and doing chores that he needed to have done, like getting his bicycle, or taking something, uh, one place, uh, or another. The, the job had great advantages, because I could hear what was going on, uh, and could report back, and I could also alert people to his coming, because I would be going ahead of him, running, announcing his coming. And so we had the signal that I would signal. He had, he wore a hat with a feather; and if I went like this to people [gestures] they knew that he was coming. And, uh, because if people were seen not working, they would be beaten very badly.|
Dora grew up in the industrial city of Radom, known for its armaments industry. Though fervently Jewish, her Yiddish-speaking parents differed from each other in that her mother was deeply religious while her father was not religious and was an ardent member of the Zionist Labor Party. Also known by her Jewish name D'vora, Dora attended Jewish schools and joined a Zionist youth organization.
1933-39: When I visited my uncle near the German border in 1936, I first noticed anti-Jewish placards and hate messages. In school our teachers told us that humanity was becoming more civilized. However, on September 8, 1939, the German occupation began. I was identified as a Jew on the new ID card I was issued. And before the year ended, I had to wear an identifying badge on my clothing.
1940-44: A German officer was billeted in our home, but at least his presence protected us from pillaging by Nazi bullies. In March 1941 we were forced into a ghetto [Radom]. Germany seemed to be winning the war; we were young and decided to do as much living as possible. We'd even violate the curfew in order to have fun. Those who worked and were useful to the Germans had a better chance to live. I had a job at the weapons factory, which saved me from being deported when the Germans destroyed the ghetto during 1942 and 1943.
Dora was deported to Auschwitz in July 1944. She was liberated at the Bergen-Belsen camp by British troops on April 15, 1945. In 1950 she emigrated to America.
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