Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust

By Anita Brostoff; Sheila Chamovitz | Go to book overview

A Son in Deed
Sam Gottesman
b. Irsava-Ilosva, Czechoslovakia (became Hungary), 1923

The Dilemma

The sun was setting behind us as we marched back to camp, all seventy-five of us Häftlinge Kzetniks, as we called ourselves. We were in the Silesian Mountain area. It was a warm July day. The work was going well for me. My German master at the building site was a genteel man, who never spoke a harsh word. Even though I was not a Zimmerman, he had patiently showed me how to construct the wooden form for the building foundation so it would not collapse when the cement was being poured. But now as we were marching back to the camp my thoughts turned again to what was more important—food.

The twenty-minute march allowed us the luxury of dreaming of anything our fancy could come up with for supper. And the zulage—will it be a wedge of Limburger (which I couldn't stand at the beginning but now found delicious)? Will it be a one-inch cut of wurst, or perhaps a pat of margarine and a spoonful of marmalade? And what about soup? Never mind what kind, but will it have some potatoes in it, or perhaps noodles? Will I be lucky enough to be somewhere in the line when the Kapo reaches toward the bottom of the canteen where all the good stuff settles? Or will he open up a new canteen just when it's my turn in the line, and all I'll get is a ladle of thin watery soup?

Once in the camp, we could relax while waiting until all inmates were present and accounted for. They were marching in from every direction, from four different working places. Meanwhile I tried to find out from inmates working inside the camp what's for supper.

Finally someone said, Biscoten Suppe. So what's Biscoten soup? We were familiar with potatoes, barley, cabbage, even sugar beets—but Biscoten?

The canteens with our suppers were brought forward. I strained to see what this Biscoten soup was all about. Finally at the head of the line, I put out my little tin bowl, which was my only property along with the spoon issued way back when we first arrived. I was given a ladle of a creamy golden yellow-colored mush, my zulage and the four slices of bread which was our daily ration.

Off I went with my mystery soup, but I couldn't wait to reach my barrack. I had to taste it right now.

Lo and behold! This tastes like tea biscuits soaked in water or milk. This was cake! Nothing like this ever happened before. Was it a mistake? Were these

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