AuschwitzPage 1234 BirkenauPage 123 Other Plaszów

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Newly arrived prisoners had to undress in this room. Clothing, valuables, and documents belonging to non-Jewish prisoners were taken to taken to deposit in the camp storage rooms (Effektenkammer). Property belonging to Jews, whether they were murdered on arrival or assigned to labour in the camp, was confiscated and taken to the nearby warehouse area known as 'Canada'. After sorting and disinfection, it was shipped to various destinations in Germany, mainly for German civilians.

"...first we were selected, and then we had to give up our clothing from home except for our shoes, which our transport was able to keep, but that was not the general rule.

"And then our heads were shaven bald. I had two long braids, and they just snipped off my braids and dumped it on this pile of hair. I was just horrified to see my brown braids on this pile of hair. And when I was staring at this pile, somebody was already going over my head with a pair of sheers that were hand-operated. They were not scissors, like a hair cutter. We have them now in electric form, but they were all hand operated. So, the haircut wasn't even smooth, and in touching my head, I saw some blood on my fingers, and I just cried obviously. As a young girl I thought my hair was a crown. But, I had no idea that maybe I'll be grateful for not having that hair later, as we were infested with lice.

"They tried to reduce us to be untermenschen, they called us untermenschen, sub-humans. I never saw vermin in that form ever. And of course it was their idea to eliminating us through illness that lice caused.

"We were given tattoos then. My mother and sister and I had three consecutive numbers. Mine is A6374, and mother's was first, "72", my sister's followed with "73" and I was "74." And that was unusual only because by this time there were hardly any inmates in whose families three people were still alive. As we experienced this it kept getting worse and worse, and as our energies were robbed and we became weaker and weaker.

I put myself in the position that I am in, the role that I am playing now is the survivor, which I am. Anybody who doesn't believe it can look at my tattoo number, and what could be more convincing than that? And that's the only thing I have left from the Holocaust, in addition to the scars on my legs, all over my right leg and what's in my heart, and A-6374 tattooed on my lower left arm."
The testimony of Gloria Hollander Lyon - Czechoslovakian survivor of 7 camps including Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Beendorf and Ravensbrück. Used with kind permission of The Oral History Archives Project