Oral History

Sam Spiegel describes conditions on board a ship to the United States

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.


When we came on the ship, the first thing we asked the fellows, the Americans, says, "When we get our coupons to get food?" Because we always used to all those years to get coupons to get food. He says, "Don't worry, you're going to get enough to eat," but we couldn't believe it. But I remember the first dinner that we had when the ship moved out. We were all sitting around the tables, and we saw all the bread and all the stuff on the table. Everybody filled their pockets up because we couldn't believe that there's so much, that there's food enough, that you can eat as much as your heart desires. We had even a couple, an elder couple, that passed away on the ship because they ate too much of the food that they shouldn't have eaten. And even I remember myself after the first meal I couldn't eat maybe for three days, I got sick... because we couldn't understand that there's a world that there's so much food and here we were going around hungry.


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