Oral History

Sam Spiegel describes conditions in a forced-labor camp

In 1942, Sam was forced into a ghetto in his hometown and assigned to work in a munitions factory. In 1944 he was transported to Auschwitz and then forced to work in a train factory. He survived eight days on a death march after the evacuation of Auschwitz by the Nazis. He was liberated by Soviet units in January 1945. He lived in a displaced persons camp in Germany where worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. In 1947, he immigrated to the United States.


The food we got in the morning. You had to get up about four o'clock in the morning and we stayed outside. They called it Appell, that they counted us, every morning, and if somebody was missing, we had to stay outside, cold or rain didn't make any difference till the men was found. Because sometimes somebody died during the night and never even came out, or somebody...you know, something happened, but we had to wait. And if they didn't counted us... we didn't... we couldn't go to work till everything was counted. Then we had about five miles, maybe four miles, that we had to walk from the camp to the factory. The music was playing near the gate where we went out, and the music was playing at night when we came home. We got a little piece of bread. About six of us got one pound of bread. And the bread was made, was made out... you could feel the straw inside that you could hardly eat it, but we had to eat it because you had to survive on something. And we got a little bit -- it was like tea. They said it was a special... a special tea that was made that we drank a little bit. Then in the middle of the day you got a little bit of soup which was mostly water. And then at night, when we came home, either we got another little piece of soup or we got another little piece of bread. And this was our food for a whole day.


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