Oral History

David (Dudi) Bergman describes a roll call "violation" incident in the Reichenbach subcamp of Gross-Rosen

The Germans occupied David's town, previously annexed by Hungary, in 1944. David was deported to Auschwitz and, with his father, transported to Plaszow. David was sent to the Gross-Rosen camp and to Reichenbach. He was then among three of 150 in a cattle car who survived transportation to Dachau. He was liberated after a death march from Innsbruck toward the front line of combat between US and German troops.

Transcript

During roll call, it was a rule, you were not supposed to make any movements. Not anything. And I was very curious and I looked up to see where that noise was coming from and I saw it was American bombers flying over there on a mission to destroy Germany. And as I looked up with envy, wishing that I was one of those planes, thinking of being free, all of a sudden I hear a shrill right in front of me that could be heard in front of the whole camp. There was a Nazi commandant [who] saw me looking up. And "Du! Schweinhund," why did I disobey his order? And he had a big stick in his hand. And his habit was, if somebody disobeyed one of his orders, he would ask him first, "Why did you do that?" or "Why did you disobey?" And as soon as the person answered, wham, he let him have it. And often times that person would be beaten so bad that he could not go back to work, or it put him to death. Now here was my turn. "Why did you disobey?" And the little voice inside that told me in Auschwitz not to say anything, to keep quiet, was there the same thing. Saying "Don't answer. Don't say anything." And I was just looking straight in his eyes. And he was waiting for me to reply, and he was getting very impatient. In front of the whole camp there, here's one little Jew there standing up that won't do what he says. And that little voice inside saying, "Don't answer. Don't say anything." He's getting...he says, "I know why you looked up." He says, "You wish you were on one of those planes, don't you? You wish you were free," he says, he said it in German. And just I kept looking [him] straight in the eye. He says, "Well, I got news for you," he says. "You'll never be free again. You'll never make it out alive from here." And I just looked him straight in the eye, and I said, "Someday"--he couldn't even see my lips move, I just answered him--"Someday, I will be free again. And someday I will see your country destroyed for what you have done." And this is what I was just thinking. And he's looking, and he's waiting for me, and here it is. I'm almost bracing myself that he's going to do it, and I'm just holding there steady and not saying anything. And he's waiting and waiting. And somehow he sensed that I wasn't going to answer. And he was in no condition... condition to hit somebody who didn't answer, and just walked away in disgust.


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  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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