Dr. Mengele's Selection
Oral History Item Type Metadata
They were in this death block, which it was called, for several days. And one day Mengele came personally and called out my mother's number, because we were not human beings with names; we only had our tattooed number. But when they selected people, they made lists of the number and they were taken out of the archives, so that';s why later they knew exactly when people were gassed or had died, because they kept immaculate administration.
And so he called out her number, and when my mother came forward he said to her, "Turn around," and he looked her over, and I think they made eye contact. And this is again, perhaps at that time, he had perhaps a little bit of human feeling, and he said to her, "Okay, I see you're still fit to work." And he sent her back to an ordinary barrack where -- people were still ready to go to work. So she got clothes and thought she was saved.
Then next day, the kapo -- that is usually a Polish supervisor who had been in the camp for many years, and they really run the camps; the Germans were on the top layer of supervision, but the camp was really run by the kapos. And those people had become just as cruel as the Germans, because they were a long time in the camp. For instance, when we arrived they told us, "Well, we were already here, had to build the camp and had terrible conditions; you were still at home having a good life." So they had become very sadistic.
And so when my mother stood Appell, which is a roll call, which you had to have every day twice a day, the kapo of this death block came in and said, "I'm a person short in my death block." And my mother was quite tall and she stood sort of out and she recalled her that she had been in her block. So she said to her, "You big horse, come along with me." And so my mother couldn't do anything, and she went along and she went with her to this death block.
My mother was just forty at that time and she thought, "Well, this is the end of my life." And she told us later that she prayed that at least her children would survive. And she went in her mind through her life and thought, well, she had had quite a good life, and she had a wonderful husband and two wonderful children and hopefully they were surviving, but she accepted that she was going to die then.