Oral History

Sam Spiegel describes life in a displaced persons 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.


I worked for the UNRRA [United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration] and I was taking care of the registration, the people that came in over there. And then the UNRRA was getting out some food already for the people and they found out exactly what they need and what they want. We had a kitchen. At least we had enough to fill our stomachs. We didn't have to wait till...you know, you still had to have cards to go and get your food, like coupons, and...but we...we already had enough. They set up a school. If there were any children that came in, that could go to school. And we, we organized our own theaters and our own, uh, you know, clubs so we can come together and we can talk about things. And, and if a family was left, they found out that you were in one camp, they could transfer from one camp to the other camp so they can be with the family together. Was a big improvement. It was really we... we were ...we were free at least. We knew what, you know, what was freedom.


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