b. Kosino, Czechoslovakia, 1923
In May 1944, my sister and I arrived at Auschwitz. They took us to the gypsy camp within Auschwitz. There were about twenty thousand gypsies there, and about ten thousand Hungarian girls in separate barracks.
It was a terrible place.
We had to get up at 2:00 A.M. for the Appell, the roll call. The Nazis would come and we would stand in line until seven, eight, or nine o'clock in the morning. At 2:00 A.M. it was very cold because we had only rags on, and we were freezing. Then when the sun came up, it beat down on us. This was very hard on us because we had shaved heads and were used to having a lot of hair. Many of us fainted. The Kapo slapped our faces so we would come to.
We envied the gypsy girls. They had their long hair and wore their own clothes, long dresses with ruffles. To us—shaven, in rags—they were beautiful. There were gypsy men, too. Cruel they were, slapping and teasing us whenever they got a chance. We would hide from them.
The rumor was that this was some sort of an experiment with the gypsies, this keeping young men and women together in a sort of “normal” environment, unlike the rest of the inmates.
And in what must have been their usual way, the gypsies were very noisy. We heard them singing and arguing at all hours. Then suddenly one morning, it was quiet.
I asked the Kapo, “What happened that the gypsies are so quiet?”
She pointed to the crematorium. She said that the gypsies were there, up in the crematorium. All twenty thousand of the young men and women gypsies were gone—all of them, in a single night.
The Nazis were very efficient.