In the morning, when tens of Kapos began to shout aufstehen, wake up...! uuuup...! and to blow their short whistles, we jumped as if lashed from our bunk or the heap of straw we slept on right to the cold bare cement.
I don't know at what time reveille was sounded, but I remember that in all concentration camps I was detained that horrid yell -- aufstehen! -- wake up! -- accompanied by sinister whistles which penetrated the barracks long before daybreak, when outside it was still dark.
In the dreadful winter of 1944 in Kaufering and Landsberg in particular that command created general stampede. If you did not jump to your feet at the first yell, and did not manage to button up the streaked greatcoat and tie all rags and tatters with ropes around you lest the wind should tear them off and if you did not have the time to bind your clogs with wire lest you should lose them in the snow, once you came out from the barrack to the Appellplatz you had to give up hope as you couldn't do any of these operations with your hands wrapped up urn ranges, and if you unwrapped them, they froze.
We usuallyleft the camp at an early hour as the way to the place where we worked took a couple of hours. There we toiled for 10-12-14, who could exactly tell how many hours on end. There, then... I never knew what was the time. When we returned to the camp, it was already dark. Back in the barrack I fell like a log. My only concern was not to be too fast asleep and be able to hear the first shout: aufstehen! Wake up!
One evening, when we arrived in front of the camp gate after a hell of a trusty day in which twice as much of our comrades as usual died so that we could hardly drag their corpses through the one meter high snow, in which we sank and rolled with corpses and all, instead of finally being dismissed to go to the barracks, we were order:
"Kehrt euch! Vorwärts marsch! Left about face! Forward march!"
The order confounded us. Nothing of the sort had ever happened before. Most sinister thoughts assailed us. We turned right and after 5-600 meters we came to a halt behind an endless column of Häftlings, the detachments that had arrived before.
In a few minutes we found out what was all about. The lice had multiplied to such an extent that typhus was threatening. The SS-men got frightened and set up a shower bath and some steamers for delousing.
Each time there entered one-hounded detainees. The wind blew in strong gusts. We thronged round one another and supported one another; because, otherwise, dead tired and spent with hunger, half frozen as we were we could have collapsed to the ground. Our turn came very late, after midnight.
We entered the first room; we took off our clothes, tied them up in bales and handed them in for delousing. The next room was the shower bath. Warm water! We couldn't believe our senses. We had not washed ourselves since we came toLandsberg. After a couple of minutes the warm water stopped running. "Fertig!", "Heraus!", "Schnelles heraus!", "That's all!", "Get out!", "Get out quickly!"
Shouted at, sworn at and lashed we were pushed into a third room that had no door, no windows. One hundred stark nakedHäftlings chilled to bone kept jumping and clapping our bodies. Water was late in evaporating. From time to time a gust of wind swept across the room making us groan. An hour later when we got back our clothes we were almost catching our death with cold.
We entered the camp, passed by the kitchen and got our food: boiled potatoes. At other times, we would have jumped with joy. But we were fagged out now. We entered the barrack and tumbled into our beds. Some put their potatoes under their heads, they were too spent with fatigue to eat. Nobody got undressed.
An hour, or perhaps only half an hout later, we all jumped to out feet. The barrack was invaded by that terrible aufstehen!wake up! accompanied by the maddening sound of short whistles.
I was standing unsteady on my legs, unable to move. For the first time I had the feeling that it was all over, that I am finished...
The second yelling aufstehen! heraus, schneller heraus! wake up! Get out, get out quickly! blending with the long whistles filled the barrack and pierced my ears, my whole body, cell by cell like a cold rain and terrified by the fate I was going for a brief moment torsion to I dashed out, in the cold of the Appelplatz.
The order aufstehen! wake up!... had become so habitual to us, had so much got into our brains and our blood, that many months after liberation, back home, in Cluj in the home for former deportees the first to wake up in the morning shouted merrily and triumphantly: aufsteheeeen! wake uuuup! and we picked up and repeated the word and then turned on the other side and smiling contentedly we lazed in the soft and clean beds for minutes on end.
Sometimes, towards daybreak I happen even now to hear the echo of dreadful aufstehen!... coming from as far as the forest of Bavaria, the hoarse scream that had been screamed by all Kapo's of Landsberg and Kaufering many, many years.