The Maslovitz transfer camp was a disaster. The prisoners were full of lice because we had not washed for several months. Our clothing was taken away, in some cases peeled off our skin, and tossed into heaping fire pits. We were then herded naked, like cattle, into large empty concrete washrooms. Many showerheads were spread around the walls. There was a lot of confusion as prisoners screamed, cried or prayed, afraid we might be in the gas chambers we’d heard rumors about. Then, standing like matchsticks inside a box, we heard a loud gurgling sound.
Was that gas making its way through the pipes? I shivered even though my body was already numb from the cold. There was a long silence. And then... Water. It was ice cold, but we cheered as we bathed. Pieces of soap were passed around and for one moment, one tiny moment, it was a celebration and we laughed. After that shower, most of us still had lice so we were immediately put back in. Even after three cleanings we still had lice, so then they turned on the hot water. Despite the harsh washings, everyone was still itching. The showers were not for our comfort, but to keep us healthy a little longer so we could work for them a little longer.
Not long after our arrival, as a result of the lice, typhus broke out and many died with their eyes open, their last words often being, “Give me a piece of bread and let me die in peace.”
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