Oral History

Barbara Marton Farkas describes punishment for spilling some food in the Auschwitz camp

Barbara was born in the province of Arad in northern Transylvania, Romania. She went to school until the Hungarian army occupied the area in 1940 and she was no longer allowed to attend. After the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944, discrimination against Jews intensified. Barbara and her family were forced into the Oradea ghetto. She worked in the ghetto hospital until she was deported to the Auschwitz camp. At Auschwitz, she worked in the kitchens to receive extra food. She was deported to another camp, and later forced on a death march. Toward the war's end, the Red Cross rescued Barbara. She returned to Arad after World War II and worked as a biochemist.


I don't know exactly, in July, they came and ask us who wants to help to take some container to the other side, to the other, uh, Lager [camp], to the B Lager, because the kitchen was in C Lager. And those girls or women who get to work in the kitchen, they had a good life, I mean they have enough food, and I went and I said, I want to, to work, to take those container to the B Lager, because they said you will get a little bit more food when you finish with that work. And because I was hungry I said I prefer to go and haul those heavy containers and get a little food. And they took us, they take us very early and dark in the morning, to take those container to the B Lager and we, we passed through the main gate of C Lager and then we passed through the B gate of the, of the, B Lager, the gate of the B Lager. Once happen that, uh, that two of the girls who were coming on back of my side push us, touch our container and the food was not covered, I mean, the container was not covered, and a little bit of food spill out from the container. And the SS, uh, woman saw this and they punish both of us. We put down the container aside, and they take us to the C Lager gate, and said to us to kneel and with two brick, bricks in our hand, we held up our hands with the bricks and stayed there from the, from dawn until the sun was, I think was, was already noon. And we were very afraid with the other girl because we, that time we know already about crematorium, and we were afraid that maybe as a punishment they gonna take us to the crematorium. But, uh, at noon they let us go back to the block, and during that time when we were staying, kneeling with the bricks on our hand, we were, uh, heard from far away the, uh, music band playing "The Merry Widow," and we were crying and crying, listening to that music because I knew that, uh, music from my home, from before. And then finally at noon they let us go back to the, the block and we were happy that we escaped, and they didn't take us to the crematorium.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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