Oral History

Miso (Michael) Vogel describes arrival at Auschwitz

In 1939, Slovak fascists took over Topol'cany, where Miso lived. In 1942, Miso was deported to the Slovak-run Novaky camp and then to Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, he was tattooed with the number 65,316, indicating that 65,315 prisoners preceded him in that series of numbering. He was forced to labor in the Buna works and then in the Birkenau "Kanada" detachment, unloading incoming trains. In late 1944, prisoners were transferred to camps in Germany. Miso escaped during a death march from Landsberg and was liberated by US forces.


So they marched us through the gate with whips and beatings and dogs jumping on us. We came to a huge brick building. They shoved us...shoved us into the huge brick building, and there were prisoners and SS telling us what to do next. It was tables, long tables. The first area, where we had to undress, strip our clothing. There were hooks behind us. You put the clothing through a piece of wire, hang the clothing up, take our shoes off, put the shoes on the floor. Next table were the barbers, the camp barbers, where they shaved our head, they cut our hair, shaved the entire body. They said it's for hygiene. Then we moved to another table where the tattooing was done. So, the tatoo was done on the left forearm. There was one person who would rub the...a little piece of dirty alcohol on your arm, and the other one had the...had the needle with the inkwell, and he would do the numbering. So my number is 65,316. That means there were 65,315 people numbered before me, tattooed before me. After the tattoo...tattooing was done, they put us where they gave us the clothing, but not what we came with. They gave us, issued us a striped brown cap, a jacket, striped jacket, a pair of striped trousers, a pair of wooden clogs, and a shirt. No socks or underwear. Then the last area, when they gave us the uniform, they gave us two strips of cloth. The cloth, I would say, was about six inches long, maybe inch-and-a-half wide. And it [was] star...starred with the Star of David, corresponding with the number on your left forearm, sewn on your left breast and on the right pant leg. And then the last item, which was the most important item that we received, was a round bowl. And this bowl was the lifeblood of your being. First of all, without it you couldn't get the meager rations that we got. And second, the bathroom facilities were almost non-existent.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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