Oral History

David (Dudi) Bergman recalls the importance of work for survival in the Plaszow labor camp

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

Plaszow was a combination of work camp and extermination camp. A lot of the Gypsies were brought in for extermination in that camp. And 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.


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  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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