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5. Concentration Camps & Forced Labor

A young Polish woman watches her father for the last time

Twenty-year-old Rosa Katz and her family arrived at Auschwitz from Lodz, Poland, in 1944

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"And all of a sudden, I realized that my brother and my father went one direction, and Hela my sister-in-law and her mother and I, we went in a different direction, and I realized we won't be seeing each other anymore, we are being separated.

And just so happened I had picked up a little suitcase I had, where we had our last piece of bread in it, and I ran out and grabbed the bread out of the suitcase and I ran to my Dad and I gave it to him, and I was pushed right back, you know, to the women's line.

And I could tell my Dad was terribly nervous because, while they were marching on, they told them to march. There was so much going on, so much shouting and shooting and screaming and crying.

I really, it's unbelievable I cannot describe it. It was just a nightmare, a horrible nightmare is not that horrible, you know, [to] what was going on then.

This was Auschwitz.

And I realized my Dad, all of a sudden; I knew he knew what was going on.

He started breaking his bread, breaking it and just giving it to this man, and this man, and I knew he was 'Share that bread because it was the last piece of bread I will ever eat,' you know. Somehow, I felt that that's what my father was thinking or feeling, you know.

He did it in such a nervous way, you know, because of him, he was a very calm man, you know, very intelligent, and very thoughtful man and he always psychoanalyzed things, you know, he was that type of a thinking man.

And I knew, the way he was, I was watching the way he was breaking that bread, I knew that something terrible, he knew that something terrible is gonna happen to all of us."

Katz Interview, Tape 3, Side 2
Transcript page 61 (PDF, 591 KB)

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