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“In addition to five thousand Jews there were thirty thousand foreign workers and a few thousand Reichsdeutsche (Germans). They all worked in a Krupp munitions factory where anti-tank cannons were manufactured. Many firms were engaged in this construction; the Jewish workers were allocated to the following firms: Grün & Bilfinger, Beton & Monier-Bau, Wayss & Frietag, Lenz & Co. and, among others, Schallhorn.

Each of these firms provided a canteen for the workers they employed. They were all provided with a hot lunch, with the sole exception of us Jews. Often the smell of cooking wafted towards us so that we salivated and our empty stomachs went into painful cramps. Although we did the same work as others we were excluded. Some German and foreign workers occasionally gave us their plate of food when they had no appetite.

Often those who were starving cast caution to the winds and stole potatoes, carrots, in short, anything they could get their hands on, from the canteen storerooms. Of course sometimes they were caught; if they were in luck they were reported and released, if a report was submitted the thieves were held back on the Appellplatz and received twenty five or fifty lashes on their bare bottom, according to the scale of the theft. Often the whole group would receive collective punishment. When the Appell was dismissed we had to remain standing for hours and submit to a humiliating search of our bodies. Often we were stripped naked because some would attach potatoes to their bodies under their clothes. These body searches lasted for hours and when they concluded we swayed and tottered exhausted into our barracks.”


Prisoners at forced labor on the assembly line of the Gustloff Werke II munitions plant in the Buchenwald concentration camp. [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Gedenkstaette Buchenwald

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