Mrs. Anna Obstfeld (Part II)

Can you describe your experience in Placzow concentration camp?

On our first day of work in Placzow we were given backbreaking, murderous work. We were ordered to build using heavy boulders. There was no possible way that young girls could even lift such weights. At night the German officer arrived and began shouting that since we did not accomplish the work quota, we would be punished. He was going to shoot his rifle for 20 minutes and kill all those in his path.

The kapo in charge protested that he was going to be left without any workers. The officer agreed to shoot only every tenth person. We were all lined up; one time I was the ninth person and one time I was the eleventh. Again I felt Hashem watching over me. We remained in Placzow for eight long months.

Men and women were separated in the camps. My brother was also in the Placzow concentration camp. My uncle had been killed in the ghetto in a mass grave shooting. Now my brother was all alone, too. His job was to clean the furniture that the Germans had confiscated from Jewish homes. Every so often he would see me through the barbed wire and pass me some extra food.

What happened when you left Placzow?

One night we were informed that our group would be relocating to another camp. We were transferred to a concentration camp in Skarzysko, Poland. When my brother came from work and realized that I wasn’t there anymore he tried to follow my group, but instead he was sent to another camp, Starahovicz, and from there to Auschwitz. After this incident I did not see him again.

What were the daily routine and the living conditions in Skarzysko and Leipzig?

In Skarzysko we worked in an ammunitions factory. I worked the night shift, from seven o’clock in the evening to seven in the morning. We slept six people on one wooden plank. For the first three weeks we were not given any food.

From Skarzysko I traveled to a third camp in Leipzig, Germany. When I arrived in Leipzig, I worked in another ammunitions factory. We walked three miles there and back to work each day. When we passed the German houses I would secretly wish to be allowed just a short time to use the bathroom and wash myself up.

I met a young woman by the name of Mrs. Dembitzer. She was about 20 years old, and her job was to assign the jobs on the machines. She looked at me and realized immediately that there was no way I could manage to operate those huge machines. Mrs. Dembitzer had an idea. She said to me, “We have a table where everyone works. You will go under the table and sleep through the night. In the morning, I will wake you up when it is time to return to the barracks.” My machine stood empty for eight months. Although there was a German kapo there, he didn’t say anything the whole time.

One morning Mrs. Dembitzer forgot to wake me. When I awoke, I saw that they were counting and recounting only to find that one person was still missing. I ran out to join the group in the hope that they wouldn’t see me, but the girls began screaming at me, “Vi bist du? — Where were you? We have been waiting here for half an hour already! We couldn’t go home (back to the barracks) because one person was missing!” They began to hit me but they let me live.

We remained in Leipzig for approximately nine months.

We each had one striped dress to wear. The top of the dress was very itchy and I wanted to attach a collar to it. One day I went to the latrine and there was a Russian girl there who offered to give me a piece of material in exchange for a small piece of soap that I had. I gave her the soap but she never returned with the material and I never saw her again.

What were you given to eat in the concentration camps?

We were given a slice of bread every other day and soup made from horse meat. I could not eat the soup and I learned to be satisfied with the bread.