Oral History

Ruth Meyerowitz describes sabotage effort in Malchow munitions factory

In Frankfurt, Ruth's family faced intensifying anti-Jewish measures; her father's business was taken over and Ruth's Jewish school was closed. In April 1943, Ruth and her family were deported to Auschwitz. Ruth was selected for forced labor and assigned to work on road repairs. She also worked in the "Kanada" unit, sorting possessions brought into the camp. In November 1944, Ruth was transferred to the Ravensbrueck camp system, in Germany. She was liberated in May 1945, during a death march from the Malchow camp.


We uh were taken in the morning and marched for about several miles to something that looked like woods. They were woods. And where the trees were sparse they planted artificial trees, and there were nets with leaves overhead to camouflage the uh things that were going on there. Uh then there was a sand hill with some trees coming out of it, and oh the side was a door. Once you walked into this door it was like a very modern-looking laboratory or some very clean uh factory. It was actually an ammunition factory, very well camouflaged from attack from overfly...uh overhead planes. And we were...actually the whole camp was honeycombed underneath with all these different uh factories. One group I know was making hand grenades. Our group was making...uh...bullets. And for being such a very modern uh factory and a very cleverly designed factory, there was really...uh the equip...the way we made the bullets was very primitive. There was a board with little holes in it that...I think there were twenty-four or whatever the number, tiny little small holes, and there was, and we...there was a half a capsule of a bullet put in, that we put it in, into each one of the holes. Then we filled a certain amount of gunpowder into it, and then the other half of the, uh, of this board closed over, something like a waffle iron, on, on that idea, a hamburger press, and the other half of the capsule of the bullet was pushed down and that made a bullet that would be used, I guess in a regular gun. Uh at both ends of the table--these were long tables we were sitting at and must have been about twenty or thirty uh prisoners on uh on each table--and on each end was a, uh, SS woman making sure that we did the right thing. Well, it was very difficult but I tried to uh not line up the top with the bottom part of this board as much as I could without being detected because I really didn't want to be hit or killed or whatever. But I tried to sort of squeeze it in a crooked way so that it would close but not quite, and I was hoping that these bullets would misfire and I was hoping that in this way it would be my part of the war effort against the Nazis.

  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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